NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – The launch of flights to Luanda, Angola by Kenya Airways presents huge opportunities for Kenyan investors and corporates, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni says.
The inaugural flight on Tuesday coincided with the opening of a KQ office in Luanda’s city centre. It becomes the airline’s 50th destination worldwide.
The airline will have two weekly flights to the Portuguese-speaking nation on Tuesday and Friday, and is hoping to increase the frequency in the coming months, in addition to other routes.
“We’re waiting for business to pick up but I assure you soon you will see a 767 on this route. Don’t only look at Kenya as a destination; look at the traffic to other business destinations through Nairobi as well. The challenge then is for Kenya to try to hold on to this traffic,” Mr Naikuni said.
Angola is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, just eight years after the end of a civil war that ravaged its countryside for more than 27 years. The growth is mainly driven by revenues in the sale of oil and diamonds.
However, according to statistics, the rate of unskilled labour in Angola is above 90 percent, leading to an influx of expatriates in their millions. The lack of infrastructure as well presents opportunities for investment in industry.
“Angola has oil but no refinery. So they have to import refined oil from abroad. The price of fuel is about half a dollar per litre but only because the government subsidises it heavily,” Omollo Obongo, a Kenyan consultant engineer working in Angola said.
“Nearly everything is imported here,” he explained, adding that the focus now is on laying down a solid infrastructure, hence the massive opportunity.
Kenya Airways has an initial introductory offer of $50 for a return ticket from Nairobi to Luanda, valid until the end of September.
KQ Sales Manager for South Africa Helena Maxwell told Capital Business that they have also set up holiday offers for 3-4 nights in Kenya at a fee of $1,000 inclusive of flight charges, to encourage Angolans to visit East Africa.
“This is 2-3 nights in Nairobi and one in the Lake Nakuru National Park. It’s very affordable and full board at $1,000 and $1,000 for Angolans is nothing,” said Ms Maxwell.
She however admitted that the Angolan market is extremely particular and as a result their campaign had to be very specific.
“We’ve been marketing it through the embassies, through the travel agents, which is a big culture here; just letting them know about the flight. With the response we have gotten and the opening up of other routes across Africa, Europe and Asia through KQ, I think there was definitely a necessity to open up this route.”
Kenya Airways has also branched into cargo, with the primary commodity for export into Angola being flowers.
“There’s infinite potential. My biggest aim is to be here on a daily basis and I know it is headed there,” Ms Maxwell pointed out.
Although Kenyans can only secure visa from the Angolan embassy in Tanzania, Mr Naikuni said KQ would assist travellers in securing the travel authorisation until the matter is resolved.