Qatar airways entry to the Kenyan space creates more turbulence for KQ

Qatar Airways is set to begin direct flights between Mombasa and Doha next year...

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Qatar Airways has announced that it will launch direct flights between Mombasa and Doha next year, stepping up domestic competition for national carrier Kenya Airways.

“The new destinations announced today mean that we can now bring (our) innovative and world-class products to even more travellers around the world,” Qatar’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker said in a statement.

During his official visit to the country, HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta held a round of official talks where they signed pacts to boost bilateral relations between the two nations.

The Middle East carrier, which already operates daily flights to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), added Mombasa to its new 12 destinations set to be launched in 2018.

Unlike KQ, which has to first land Nairobi before proceeding to Mombasa, Qatar airways will be flying directly to Mombasa giving the Kenyan national carrier a run of its money.

Kenya Airways which has been on a slow recovery after registering a Sh26.2 billion loss last year has protested the move saying it will eat into its local and international business, impeding its return-to-profitability strategy.

This comes on the backdrop of the transport ministry last July granting low-cost carrier flydubai the rights to begin daily flights between Dubai and Mombasa, further raising competitive pressure on KQ.

The government however has defended the direct flights saying the only way the sector can fully recover, and attract more tourists, is through opening up the skies.

The State-owned Qatar joins international carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines and RwandAir which currently fly directly into the coastal city of Mombasa.

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