, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9- Following the recent acquisition of a 50 seater CRJ-100 jet, Fly540 has announced the introduction of three direct weekly services between Nairobi and Bujumbura starting January next year.
The flights which will be operated on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays are scheduled to facilitate business operations between Burundi and Kenya.
The Operations Director of Fly540 Nixon Ooko on Wednesday said demand for business travel on the Nairobi-Bujumbura route had increased after Burundi’s integration into the East African Community thereby facilitating the need for the additional flights to the two cities.
“Since Burundi became a member country of the East African Community there has been a growing demand for business travel on this route. Our flights operate services to Entebbe, Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Serengeti in Tanzania. These destinations illustrate the growing need of value for money through air travel throughout the East African region,” he said.
He also observed that the acquisition of the CRJ jet would be followed by additional jets and turbo prop aircraft which would further propel the company’s anticipated increase in business come next year.
“The introduction of flights between Nairobi and Bujumbura is another step in our regional expansion programme. The newly acquired jets support expansion of our plans. Our focus remains on course and we forecast our business to double in 2010,” he stated.
Mr Ooko also announced that passengers would pay $150 inclusive of tax for a one way ticket adding that the aircraft would depart from Nairobi at 10:40 am on each of the three days.
“The flights will depart from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and arrive Bujumbura Airport at 11:55 am. They will leave Bujumbura at 12:25 pm. and arrive at JKIA at 3:20 pm.,” he explained and added that the airline had also increased daily return flights to and from various destinations in Kenya.
“During this year Fly540 has increased daily return flights from Nairobi to Mombasa, Malindi and Kisumu. We have also pioneered the opening up of new routes such as Kitale and Lodwar,” he said.
The airline’s name refers to its price of Sh5,540 per adult return fare between the above-mentioned towns. The airline now has nine destinations in Kenya. Lonrho Africa is a major investor in the company with a 49 percent stake.
The airline started operations between Nairobi and Mombasa in November 2006. The service initially operated twice daily using 48-seater ATR42 aircrafts.
In May 2007 the airline introduced two Bombardier Dash 8 Q100 aircraft to increase the airline\’s capacity, allowing it to develop new domestic routes. Passenger numbers rose by 93 percent to 171,160 in the year ended 30 September 2008, from 88,571 in 2007.
The original scheduled flights (except for freight flights) included scheduled passenger traffic between Nairobi and Mombasa. Kisumu became a destination in January 2007. Daily flights on the Nairobi-Malindi-Lamu route were further added to its domestic services in February 2007.
It received authorisation to start operations in Angola in April 2009. The initial plans include domestic flights to Cabinda Luanda, Soyo, Benguela, Huambo and Malanje but an expansion within the region will take place as soon as the domestic market has proven its success.
In June 2009 it was reported that the airline was working to set up a regional franchise in Zimbabwe.