NAIROBI, September 16 – Kenya Airways announced Tuesday that it would start direct flights to the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo from November this year.,
The airline\’s communication manager, Victoria Kaigai said the flights will reduce travel time by more than 50 per cent, if connection time is factored.
Currently, flights from Kenya to Antananarivo pass via Johannesburg, South Africa, with travelers taking on average, seven-hours to arrive in Antananarivo.
"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.
Kaigai said the new destination is in line with Kenya Airways (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 provide an opportunity for Kenyans to exploit Madagascar as an alternative tourism destination.
The direct flight to Madagascar comes at a time when the airline is in the process of adding modern planes on its 27 modern fleet, composing 23 Boeing planes and three Embraer 170 Long Range jets, to expand capacity.
Kaigai said the domestic routes in Kenya would be effectively served to offer travelers more time to connect to other destinations while creating more travel frequencies.
This year, KQ has taken delivery of 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 five.
"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," the airline communication manager said.
The airline has already placed 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 US$1.04 billion on modernising its fleet and upgrading its ground-handling equipment and technology to cater for its 43 destinations in 39 countries.