Some aviation stakeholders were reportedly not entirely happy with the way the aviation meeting in Nairobi at the Kenya Airways’ Pride Centre went yesterday with one writing in “Skirting issues does not help. Just like with tourism, the softly, softly approach has not yielded results. When Kenyans complain about high fares, or when our neighbors complain about high fares, it is in part a result of keeping competition away. I know that as a Kenyan citizen we have to stand by our own airlines, but that has limits. If fares can be brought down by a quarter or more, travelers should not have to pay for the inefficiencies of airlines or the errors of their management, present and past.
“There is an application pending by Fastjet to set up an airline in Kenya. Was anyone bothered to ask why this application keeps getting delayed? They brought fares down in Tanzania. Fastjet is also kept out from the route from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi, and yet we pay high fares on that route. Kenya Airways (KQ) and Precision Air are both trying to shake off losses, and they are the dominant force between Nairobi and Dar. The moment RwandAir started flying from Entebbe to Nairobi, there was immediate movement on the fares of other airlines. Why dictate them a capacity cap? What purpose does that serve, and who benefits from that? Not the travelers, for sure! At least in East Africa we need open skies, because that way fares come down. Those issues were conveniently left alone at this meeting.”
A few others took issue with the President himself not being there for the opening, considering that aviation, alongside tourism, are two key elements in the Kenyan economy and both could, if properly facilitated, spur a burst of added growth for the country and restore thousands of jobs lost at the Kenya coast where many resorts have closed while others are at the brink.
Travel agents in the city also had comments when news emerged from the meeting that the Kenyan government was pushing for civil servants to be using national airline, Kenya Airways, whenever possible: “There are places where KQ does not fly to. Connecting to another airline somewhere along the way, where KQ’s flights end, normally raises fares even if an alliance partner airline takes over from there. Surely they are not saying that the country must incur greater expenditure for travel because of that.