NAIROBI, October 15 – Kenya Airways (KQ) will launch direct flights to Guangzhou, China beginning October 28 this year.
The airline has been flying to Guangzhou through Dubai since 2005 and the direct flight to the Chinese city becomes the third outside Africa. In Europe, the airline flies directly between Nairobi and London and Nairobi to Paris.
“KQ therefore becomes the first airline from sub-Sahara Africa to launch the non-stop flights from Nairobi to mainland China,” said the airline’s Communication Manager, Ms Victoria Kaigai.
She said apart from reducing their travel time by an estimated 20 percent, travellers on the flights would also eliminate a two-hour stop-over in Dubai. Guangzhou is a major shopping destination for business people from Africa, who connect through Nairobi\’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
“The 12-hour flight to Guangzhou will operate on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays on the airline\’s Boeing 777 aircraft,” a statement from Ms Kaigai said.
Ms Kaigai also said the airline had unveiled a new winter timetable with increased flights to Bangkok and Hong Kong. Ms Kaigai said frequency to Bangkok will now go up from six to seven times a week while those to Hong Kong will move from four to five times a week.
The airline is also expected to launch direct flights to Madagascar this November.
The announcement came a day after KQ announced that it had signed a Sh750 million agreement with communication company SITA that will see the airline switch to the Very Small Aperture Terminal technology to enhance its network capacity.
Despite introducing services to different routes, the airline has decried the reduced passenger traffic that has been experienced in many routes. This situation has been blamed on the high fuel costs and the impact of the post election violence on the tourism sector.
Earlier this month, KQ Chief Executive Titus Naikuni said the airline would be reviewing the situation constantly and cautioned that they might result to cancelling flights on certain routes if the problem persisted.
Last week, KQ marked five years of operations to Bangkok. The anniversary coincided with the graduation of 25 Thai crew who will be joining the airline. Ms Kaigai said KQ now has a total of 46 Thais who will join the airline’s cabin crew of 863 staff.
Kenya’s ambassador to Thailand Dr Albert Ekai attended the celebrations and lauded KQ for its role in facilitating trade between Kenya and Thailand.