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KLM takes on Kenya Airways on key Mombasa route

Dutch national carrierKLM has announced direct flights to Mombasa in what could destabilise national carrier Kenya Airways on the key Amsterdam route.

The airline which is part of the Air France-KLM Group, yesterday said the direct flights will commence in October, as its seeks to further strengthen its presence in East Africa.

It will operate two flights a week, on Thursday and Sunday, flying the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner between Amsterdam and Mombasa, starting October 31, with a loop to Nairobi from Mombasa.

In a statement , KLM General Manager for East Africa Arthur Dieffenthaler said the flights to Mombasa will mainly target leisure travellers to the coastal city by offering a direct flying experience.

The rising number of tourists visiting Mombasa, not just from Europe but also the rest of the world, signifies the growing interest in the unique experiences the coastal city has to offer,” Dieffenthaler said, noting the Covid-19 pandemic has increased demand for direct flights.

A direct trip will cost $748 (about Sh80,000) with a round-trip costing $576 (Sh61,000) on the route, where Kenya Airways does not fly directly.

While KQ has been capitalising on its Nairobi-Mombasa route to fly passengers landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, direct flights by KLM will erode its dominance.

The addition of the Amsterdam-Mombasa route will see KLM expand its presence in the region on the back of increased tourism and trade between East African nations and the European Union, which has however been slowed down by the pandemic.

The carrier’s decision to launch flights to Mombasa, it said, also signals growing confidence in East Africa’s tourism market, one of the most competitive globally as the world is starting to slowly recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

KLM is capitalising on the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Kenya and Netherlands which allows carriers from the two countries to fly to any international airport.

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