The red carpet has been prepared and the fire engines are standing by this morning at the Lamu Aerodrome and later at the Malindi Airport when Jambojet.com will perform their maiden flights from Nairobi. The airline three days ago took delivery of a leased Bombardier Q400NextGen aircraft with 68 seats and will launch additional domestic destinations which cannot be served with their Boeing B737-300 planes.
Ahead of the Easter weekend, the new flights will no doubt boost travel to the Kenya coast and in particular to Lamu and Malindi where food festivals await visitors.
County government officials led by the respective governors of Lamu and Kilifi counties – Malindi is part of Kilifi county – will be joined by representatives of the tourism sector to welcome the inaugural flight, which will route from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport first to Lamu and then on to Malindi before returning to Nairobi.
In the afternoon at 1430 hours, the same welcoming party will take place at the Ukunda airfield in Diani, where Governor Salim Mvurya will welcome William Hondius, CEO of Jambojet, and his team onboard the inaugural flight. Also at the airfield will be Chris Modigell, a resident of nearly 40 years in Diani and a member of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce; Sam Ikwae, the coast representative of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers; and the county’s Tourism Minister, Adam Sheikh, himself a former senior hotelier before joining politics.
Chris Modigell in fact, tongue in cheek and with apparent reference to the punishing new anti-travel advisories, lobbed against Kenya yesterday by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, quipped “This leaves Diani as the only airport for Brits to land on Kenya’s coast – not a bad choice.”
There is broad excitement among tourism stakeholders along the Kenya coast over the new flights and many have in fact expressed their wish to see these flights to be codeshared with Jambojet’s parent company Kenya Airways, so that international and regional flights into Kenya can offer these destinations under one ticket, baggage included.