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    Photo credit by Sabi Sabi Game Reseve, Kruger National Park, South Africa

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Another airline joins the battle for a regional Africa route

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Kenya’s FlySax has confirmed that they will launch double daily flights between Nairobi and Entebbe effective January 9. This move comes days before RwandAir plans to also launch double daily flights from Entebbe to Nairobi under a fifth freedom right arrangements handed to them by the Ugandan aviation authorities. No word has been received as yet on the fate of Fastjet which has equally been granted fifth freedom rights to operate between Entebbe and Nairobi by the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) but has run into a series of bureaucratic obstacles with the Kenyan regulators.

“The Kenyans are trying to be clever as ever,” complained a regular source based in Entebbe before continuing, “Just as RwandAir makes their announcement, they quickly bring FlySax to also fly on the same route. This makes it two Kenyan airlines against one from Uganda, that one being RwandAir. I hear that RwandAir, while they got the landing rights approved, [are] still wait[ing] to have their slots sanctioned by the Kenyans and again they [are] dig[ging] deep into their bag of tricks. For sure, those people of Fastjet should just resign in their fate that from Entebbe they will not get flights sanctioned. They [are] still wait[ing] to fly from their main base in Dar es Salaam to Nairobi and that is also not happening any time soon. This is called protectionism, and it appears they are doing that in the face of the directive by the Head of State Summit of December 11 last year.”

Local travel agents, in touch with this correspondent from back home in Kampala, expressed their concern over the lack of marketing and hard selling of seats on the new airline Fly Sax, saying that the route is very competitive but that fundamentals should be in place first before launching flights in haste. “Now that they have done their ceremonial flight, they are chasing after travel agents and the business community. But really one should have gone into a major marketing offensive weeks ago. They better get their seats sold before they run into problems with too low load factors, and then what? We all remember Victoria International and others who could not cope. At least RwandAir is backed by the government in Kigali. We shall watch very closely what is happening.”

Meanwhile a source close to RwandAir confirmed that the planned start of flights to Nairobi has been postponed for a short period of time only because one of their aircraft is undergoing heavy maintenance but when back in service, flights from Entebbe to Nairobi will commence more or less immediately.

Source: Prof. Wolfgang H. Thome, Ph.D., eTN Africa Correspondent

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