The rivalry for domestic passengers has intensified with additional airlines and flight frequencies on the western and coastal skies.

 The move is likely to see customers emerging as the winners on account of low fares and a wide variety of schedules to choose from.

Fly 540 has introduced three daily flights to Kisumu and Eldoret, barely five months since the low-cost Jambojet started direct flights to these two destinations.

The budget carrier from March started flying on the Nairobi-Eldoret route despite earlier announcement that it was facing a challenge of passenger numbers on the route.

Return ticket to Eldoret has dropped to as low as Sh9,000 depending on the date of bookings from a high of about Sh14,000 last year. However, Jambojet is charging as low as Sh3,950 for one-way depending on the time of booking.

Jambojet managing director Willem Hondius says consumers will benefit from the competition.

“Competition is good because consumers will eventually start enjoying low fares on various routes as well as improved service,” said Mr Hondius who is operating larger aircraft with the capacity of 78 passengers compared to the rival’s 50.

“But I don’t think there is any airline that will charge lower fares than what Jambojet is charging at the moment.”

Skyward Express has launched more flights to Mombasa and Kisumu, which are expected to start sometime next week, while the flight to Eldoret route has officially started.

The airline, which began operating scheduled passenger flights in January, is finalising preparations to launch the two once-a-day routes for Mombasa and Kisumu.

Safarilink Aviation started a new flight to Vipingo last month, giving travellers an opportunity to sample their services in an area that is not dominated by other domestic carriers. The airline will operate daily from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport via Diani Airstrip.

Jambojet in March began flights to Lamu, Malindi and Ukunda from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Skyward last month started operations to oil-rich Turkana, becoming the fifth airline to begin flying there, targeting an increasing number of passengers from especially the business community that is expected to frequent the area in search of oil-related deals.

Other carriers that have added Lodwar to their routes include Air Turkana, Safarilink, Fly 540 and its sister carrier Sax, stepping up the competition for clients.

The Turkana route has become a magnet for both cargo and passenger airlines following the discovery of the oil deposits. Initially, only Fly 540 was plying the Lodwar route.

However, some of the cargo flights such as Astral Aviation have halted their business following a slump in the oil market that has seen exploring companies cut down their business.

Astral Aviation operated a weekly cargo flight to Lokichar, mainly taking supplies to oil explorers in the region. It also planned to increase its presence on the route by introducing a larger aircraft following the ongoing expansion of the Kapese airstrip in South Turkana.

Astral’s chief executive officer Sanjeev Gadhia is keen on business picking and resuming operations.

Britain’s Tullow Oil has heavily scaled back its operations in the area as part of a strategic move to reorganise its capital expenditure on exploration given the substantial decline in oil price.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has licensed Renegade Air to operate on routes connecting Nairobi to main business and tourism destinations, a move that will make competition even tighter.

The routes that it has been licensed to operate on include Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Malindi, Lokichogio, Kitale, Lodwar, Marsabit, Loyengalani, Ileret, Kapese and Nariokotome.

Via: Business Daily

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