NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – International airlines have been urged to develop and adopt strategies that will enable them to cut the amount of carbon they emit to reduce pollution.
Tourism Assistant Minister Cecily Mbarire said investing in ‘clean flying’ would go a long way in reducing the carriers’ fuel consumption and at the same time enable Kenya to conserve the environment.
“We cannot build a tourism industry that is founded on appreciation of profound importance of nature and wildlife and then contribute to poisoning the planet,” she said.
She pointed out that this would in effect enable Kenya to continue offering high quality tourism products and maintain its position as one of the world’s premium tourist destination.
“Tourists who value tranquility, harmony and the fullest comfort can surely find what they seek in Kenya. Through the development of cleaner, quieter and higher quality tours, our heritage will too continue to be a high quality destination,” she said.
She emphasised the need for the government to work together with the world’s airlines in order to effectively curb the emissions, which is already a requirement in Europe where airlines flying to and from the EU will be forced to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by five percent in 2013.
It is estimated that aviation industry accounts for about two percent of the global pollution.
Ms Mbarire spoke at a press briefing where Swiss International Airlines announced the introduction of new and larger Airbus on the Nairobi Zurich route beginning next month, making it the fifth market to receive the aircraft.
The airline’s Managing Director of Intercontinental Markets Marcel Bierdermann said the launch of their A330-300, which will help connect Europe to the rest of the Africa, would contribute to the reduction of fuel consumption and carbon emission.
He announced that since 2002, they had reduced their emission by 15 percent and savings of 180 tonnes of fuel per year. The introduction of the new long-haul planes on the Nairobi-Zurich route which is part of their Sh72billion fleet renewal program would see them cut it by a further 13 percent, he added.
He expressed optimism that the move would not only translate in increased tourism numbers from Europe but increased trade volumes between Kenya and the European Union.
“I’m aware of the Kenya’s trade with the European market providing high quality vegetables and fruits. Such trading requires meetings between buyers, producers, agents, lawyers and many others in the delivery chain. We will be the airline that provides that link in style and efficiency,” Mr Bierdermann said of the airline that flies five times to Nairobi in a week.
The demand on the route he said was growing and he envisaged that with the initiatives that had been undertaken by both the airline and the Kenyan government, such as the promotion of conference tourism, this would continue to rise in coming years.