KQ starts Dubai-Mombasa direct flights
Kenya Airways has announced the start of direct Mombasa-Dubai flights during the December festive season, a boost to tourism on the Coast.
In a statement, the national carrier said it will begin flying from Moi International Airport to Dubai during the tourism high peak period.
Hoteliers lauded the move, saying it will boost the sector that has been ailing from the Covid-19 pandemic, amid their calls for an open-skies policy to allow international airlines to land at the Coast region's largest airport.
Tourism investors, led by Kenya Tourism Board director Bobby Kamani, welcomed the announcement, saying it will boost the sector.
"The announcement of KQ’s direct flights from Mombasa to Dubai from 1 December 2022 is a welcome change and brings us a step closer to the open skies policy that all tourism stakeholders are strongly advocating for,” he said.
“We are thankful to Kenya Airways, the Kenya Airports Authority and the Ministry of Tourism."
He said the national airline has resumed the flights at an opportune time.
"It is well in advance of the festive period. The tourism fraternity looks forward to the resumption of flights to Mombasa by Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa and the introduction of FlyDubai, to continue the momentum," Mr Kamani added.
He was confident that the new government and the incoming administration at the helm of the Ministry of Tourism will see the value of the open-skies policy.
"It is not just for tourism by way of lower air fares but for the economy as a whole with lower freight costs and an increased interest by international investors to invest in Kenya as they see the country being more accessible than ever before," he added.
Mohammed Hersi, the chairman of the Diani Hospitality Owners Association, lauded Kenya Airways for resuming the Mombasa-Dubai direct flights.
"To our national carrier, Kenya Airways. If what I heard is true, then it is the way to go. The Dubai-Mombasa four times a week flight is progressive,” Mr Hersi said.
“We can't wait for the following London-Mombasa, even three times a week is good enough, Amsterdam-Mombasa, Milan-Mombasa to serve Malindi and Watamu and Paris-Mombasa flights."
He urged Kenya Airways to fly directly from Mumbai to Mombasa and Johannesburg to Mombasa.
"There is finally some light at the end of the tunnel. As always, I choose to remain an optimist," he said.
New Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Penina Malonza was urged to work with her counterpart in the Ministry of Transport to implement the open-skies policy to allow direct international flights to Kisumu and Mombasa to fill the over 40,000 beds in Coast hotels.
Some of the airlines that have been begging for licences to fly directly to Mombasa are KLM, Qatar, Turkish, Fly Dubai and Emirates.
"If these airlines fly to Mombasa, we will have traffic to fill our beds and further create employment,” said Kenya Coast Tourism Association (KCTA) chairman Victor Shitakha
In 2021, KLM announced direct flights from Amsterdam to Mombasa. But the plans were 'halted' after the airline failed to get rights to fly directly to the destination.
The region now enjoys more than 60 percent bed occupancy.