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Kenya to lose Virgin in September

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 16 – Virgin Atlantic will halt operations on the Nairobi-London route on September 24 due to increasing costs and a challenging economic environment in both Kenya and Europe over the past five years.

In a statement, Virgin Atlantic Chief Commercial Officer Julie Southern said the decision to withdraw the service was brought on by external factors including the high price of fuel, increasing aviation taxes in the UK and insufficient passenger numbers.

“These are still challenging times for the airline industry and we have to deploy our aircraft to routes with the right level of demand to be financially viable,” she added.

Since Virgin Atlantic launched in 2007, British Air Passenger Duty (APD) has risen by over 100 percent and fuel costs have increased by more than 50 percent.

According to the airline, it also took several years to recover leisure and business passenger numbers following the post-election unrest in 2008, particularly given the on-going European economic downturn.

A consultation period has started with the 32 Virgin Atlantic staff employed in Nairobi, during which they will be supported by the airline, which will involve a redundancy package and assistance to find re-employment.

The last Virgin Atlantic flight will operate from Nairobi on September 24 and from London Heathrow on September 23.

Passengers can continue to book flights throughout the next few months as the full published schedule will remain unchanged until September 24.

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