Africa: Somalia stalls Kenya Airways flights with new insurance rules
Somalia’s demand for additional insurance for Kenya Airways’ direct flights to Mogadishu forced the Kenyan carrier to postpone to December 5 the inaugural journey from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, officials said.
KQ, as the Kenyan carrier is popularly known, was to fly directly to Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport last Thursday, November 15, in a move that was expected to boost commercial ties with the Horn of Africa nation.
Kenya Airways chief executive Sebastian Mikosz, however, said on Friday that the Somalia flight would not take off until the airline meets Somalia Aviation Authority’s insurance requirements.
He did not disclose the additional insurance requirements or how different they are to what is already needed to fly to the war-torn nation.
“The additional requirements relate to insurances that the airline has to get for aircraft flying on this route. Approval process is what has delayed a bit and we expect to finalise this process within the shortest time possible,” said Mr Mikosz.
All passengers who had booked the flight were put on other flights that operate on the route, he said.
Tickets for the Nairobi-Mogadishu route are priced at Sh42,000 ($403) for a round trip and Sh22,000 ($218) one way.
The daily non-stop flight was to leave JKIA at 07.40 a.m. and arrive in Mogadishu at 9.55 a.m. local time.
It was then expected to depart Aden Adde International Airport, Mogadishu at 10.45 a.m. to arrive back in Nairobi at 1.00 p.m.
KQ was set to fly Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 on the new route.
Nairobi-New York route
The postponement of the Mogadishu flight comes a few days after the national carrier cut back the number of flights on the recently launched Nairobi-New York route citing low demand during the winter season.
The airline said it had already cancelled 10 scheduled flights on the New York route for the period beginning November 5 to December 5, adding that more flights are likely to be affected before the end of the winter season in March 2019. KQ last week said Kenyans who book tickets directly for the New York flight will enjoy a 10 per cent discount on fares and three of pieces of luggage.
It launched its daily non-stop flights to the US on October 28 in what Nairobi said was expected to stimulate tourism, trade and investments from the world’s largest economy.
The direct flight offers the fastest connection between East Africa and New York, although the Kenyan carrier is expected to face intense competition in key areas such as ticket pricing and service delivery.
Until now, US-bound Kenyan travellers have had to use connecting flights through Europe or Middle East airports and vice versa – a journey that took more than 24 hours.
By BONFACE OTIENO