By Abdi Ali
Published February 24, 2018
Air France is set to begin direct flights between Paris and Nairobi on March 26, 2018. And it is offering special introductory fares that are valid till March 23 for travel on its Boeing 787-900 aircraft to virtually France, Europe and North and South America as announced on its website.
Lufthansa and Swiss Air have announced promotional fares for Economy and Business Class from Nairobi to Boston, Dallas, New York, Washington, Orlando, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles in the United States of America. The fares are valid till March 6, 2018 for travel by September 30, 2018.
This comes at a time when Kenya’s own national carrier, Kenya Airways, is preparing to join Ethiopian Airlines on direct flights from East Africa to the United States of America on October 28, 2018.
Now that I have mentioned Ethiopian, I guess I can as well tell you that the Addis Ababa-based carrier is introducing four new destinations in March 2018 with what it refers to as ‘great promotional fares’. The new destinations are Buenos Aires in Argentina, Kisangani and Mbuji Mayi in Congo-Kinshasa and Nosy Be in Madagascar.
Ethiopian says it is offering Double bonus miles per one way for all its members who fly to or from Kisangani from March 27 – May 27, 2018.
Ethiopian, that is popularly known as ET, also says it is promiting what it calls ‘Inter Africa Travel’ for US$99 ‘for travel within Africa except West Africa’ and ‘US$299 for Travel to and from West Africa’.
Analysts say fares are set to come down as many carriers jostle for space in Kenya’s open skies in the light of Kenya being one of the 23 countries to ha joined the continental Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) on January 28, 2018.
“The launch of the Single African Air Transport Market will spur more opportunities to promote trade, cross-border investments … resulting in the creation of an additional 300 000 direct and two million indirect jobs,” Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission, said ahead of the launch.
Experts estimate SAATM will make it easier for people and goods to move across Africa, lower the cost of transport by 25% and boost the economy of the mother continent.
Besides Kenya, other members of SAATM include Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.
The launch of SAATM, that came hot on the heels of Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA)’s granting permission to several international airlines at the end of 2017 to commence direct flights to and from Nairobi.
While Tui Airlines of The Netherlands is allowed direct weekly tour charter flights from Warsaw in Poland to Kenya’s Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa, the Czech Republic’s Travel Service A S K has also been cleared to operate direct weekly tour charter flights from Prague to Mombasa.