By Dr Wolfgang H Thome
Published June 10, 2013
Qatar Airways (QR), whose scheduled flights was delayed in 2012 over what appears to have been a traffic right issue, is from August 30, 2013 starting a daily service to Mombasa in Kenya using Airbus A320 aircraft.
This service will put Qatar into direct competition with Ethiopian Airlines, which also serves Mombasa on a daily basis, but regularly uses the slower Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft, and with Turkish Airlines, which uses a B737NG version – currently the only two foreign airlines serving Mombasa on scheduled flights besides national airline Kenya Airways. Tanzanian airlines flying into Mombasa are not considered ‘foreign’ under East African Community rules.
A further expansion into East Africa would see Qatar Airways face up directly to Turkish Airlines’ relentless rollout into Africa, which is pursuing a similar market strategy and also uses a narrow body aircraft like QR does. It would also show the airline’s priorities for catching future traffic from what has been described as ‘a region rich in newly discovered oil, gas and other natural resources, undertaking massive infrastructure investments over the coming years in highways, railways and pipelines’.
This, however, comes only weeks after Qatar Airways announced their withdrawal from the Seychelles after serving the archipelago uninterrupted since 2004.
In 2012 a row was reportedly brewing when Qatar’s plans to fly via Nairobi to Kilimanjaro, were thwarted by Kenyan authorities which, in an inexplicable turnabout at the last moment, withdrew verbal promises made that the airline would be given 5th freedom rights between Nairobi and Kilimanjaro.
Unlike on the route between Entebbe and Kigali, which Qatar Airways also serves daily, and where full traffic rights have been extended to the airline by both governments, Kenya appears to have backed out of their initial commitment, bowing to pressure from other airlines flying on the route.
This resulted at the time in a hectic last minute operational switch which saw Kilimanjaro combined with Dar es Salaam, and a subsequent drop of plans to fly to Mombasa, which was due to be served, again with full traffic rights, via Dar es Salaam.
It could not be established which final routing Mombasa flights might take, if combined with either Dar or Nairobi, but a Mombasa airport source insists that flights are indeed due to commence on August 30, 2013.
An eturbonews.com article.