NAIROBI, August 15 – Kenya Airways (KQ) has announced that it will start direct flights to the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo, in November this year.,
The airline\’s Communications Manager, Victoria Kaigai said the flights would reduce travel time by more than 50 percent, if connection time is factored.
Currently, flights from Kenya to Antananarivo pass via Johannesburg, with travellers taking on average, seven hours to arrive there.
“We will provide a direct connection to travellers from Africa and beyond to Madagascar. We expect the flight to be popular because of the less flying hours involved,” said Kaigai.
She said the new destination is in line with the KQ strategy to connect Africa, through the hub and spook concept.
The Madagascar route is viewed by KQ as especially useful for the French tourism connection. KQ flies three times a week to the Charles de Gaulle Airport, France.
In addition, the route will also provide an opportunity for Kenyans to exploit Madagascar as an alternative tourism destination.
The direct flight comes at a time when the airline is in the process of adding modern planes to its 27 modern fleet composed of 23 Boeing planes and three Embraer 170 Long Range Jets, to expand capacity.
This year, KQ has taken delivery of an a third Embraer and its third Boeing 737-800 ER.
The airline is scheduled to take delivery of two additional Boeing 737-800s later in the year, bringing the total number of B737-800 in the fleet to 5.
“The B737-800 has a modern cabin, increased range and larger baggage capacity. The planes have put KQ in a good position to develop its African network with the customer needs in mind,” said Kaigai.
The airline has already placed firm orders for six Boeing 787 Dreamliners with options for six more, with deliveries expected to begin in 2012.
Since 2001, the airline has spent over $1.04 billion on modernising its fleet and upgrading its ground handling equipment and its technology to cater for its 43 destinations in 39 countries.
Meanwhile, the new B737-800 that was delivered to KQ on August 9, 2008, delivered 111 boxes of legal textbooks weighing over 3,400 pounds to Nairobi from Seattle University School of Law.
“The books will be distributed in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia, said Kaigai.
KQ and Boeing have partnered on a number of projects related to enhancing education and training in East Africa.
Boeing has contributed to the construction of new schools in Kenya, conducted children\’s book drives and also maintains an annual sponsorship of five Nairobi area schools.