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Kenya now welcomes open skies policy to push tourism

The Moi International Airport (MIA) is the first airport in the country that the government has opened up to international flights in a bid to push up tourism.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport Kipchumba Murkomen said in Mombasa that the airport is the first to be opened up as the government aims to fully implement an open skies policy for commercial flights.

Open skies are policies that governments use to give international airlines easy access to their airports. They are considered pro-consumer, pro-competition and pro-growth.

For years, tourism players especially at the coast have been pushing for these policies in order to attract more tourists.

Last Wednesday, MIA received a Fly Dubai airline flight which landed with 119 passengers; the first after adoption of the policy. 

A Boeing 737 Max -800 touched down in Mombasa and was welcomed by Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir and Murkomen.

“We have tirelessly requested the government to consider an open sky policy as we sought to grow tourism numbers and boost our economy,” Nassir said.

He said that they are now confident that more international flights will land in Mombasa. Murkomen said that approvals were made to allow Fly Dubai to start direct flights to Mombasa after the airline made a very compelling case.

“They have connections to Eastern Europe market and have a global network that can increase numbers,” Murkomen noted.

Already, 10 international airlines are said to be eyeing the Mombasa route. Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) acting managing director Henry Ogoye said the event marks a significant milestone in the ever-changing aviation landscape in the country. 

“The arrival of Fly Dubai to Moi International Airport not only enhances connectivity between our nations but also is a testament of the interest United Arab Emirates has in us, “he said. 

Skal Kenya Coast President Janet Chamia said that the airlines arrival is very exciting.

“It marks a milestone for tourism,” Chamia said. Fly Dubai Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Sudhir Sreedharan said that the new service was his airlines twelfth in Africa where it now flies to 11 different nations. 

Fly Dubai becomes the first national carrier to operate direct flights from Dubai to the coastal city in Kenya. 

“Fly Dubai’s inaugural flight to Mombasa reflects our commitment to further strengthening our network in Africa and to providing our passengers with more options for convenient travel to one of East Africa’s most attractive destinations, “Sreedharan said. 

Kenya Coast Tourist Association CEO Julius Owino and Patrick Kamanga, chairman of Kenya Association of Travel Agents Coast said that it’s been a long struggle to have Fly Dubai on the Mombasa route

“All its outbound flights have been filled by travel agents and already this shows it popularity,” Kamanga said.

Owino said that they are delighted with the prospects the new air service presents at a time when Kenyan tourism is on full path to recovery.

“We have seen huge numbers. This year looks very promising with air, sea and land arrivals looking good,” Owino said. 

Denis Gwaro, General Manager of Plaza Beach Hotel in Mombasa said that it is their hope that apart from Fly Dubai, airlines like Turkish, Rwandair, Air Tanzania and a host of other low cost carriers from South Africa could soon be landing in Mombasa.

“For us, this is the best thing to ever have happened in the early part of the year. In fact, it presents better things to come not only for coastal tourism but the entire country as a whole, “Gwaro said

Fly Dubai has been steadying itself and has built a network of 123 destinations in 54 countries served by a young fleet of 84 Boeing 737 aircraft. 

The airline has added Cairo, Krabi, Milan, Pattaya and Poznań to its network in 2023 and will start its daily services to Langkawi and Penang in Malaysia on 10 February 2024.

Fly Dubai’s network in Africa includes Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Asmara, Cairo, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Entebbe, Hargeisa, Juba, Mogadishu, Mombasa and Zanzibar.

 Flights to Moi International Airport will operate four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from Terminal 3, Dubai International (DXB). Emirates will codeshare on this route, offering passengers more options for connections through Dubai’s international aviation hub. 

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