It might soon become more attractive for a business or leisure traveler to take a flight from Nairobi to Kisumu Mombasa or Eldoret rather than use road transport.
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This follows introduction of low-cost carrier Jambo Jet by Kenya Airways, which will launch flights from Nairobi to Kisumu, Mombasa and Eldoret at Sh3, 000 one-way. Passengers currently pay between Sh1, 600 and Sh1, 800 for a bus ride from Nairobi to Mombasa. The announcement by Kenya Airways comes at a time when night bus travel ban is still in force, a situation that is inconveniencing to businesspeople that need to travel often. “I believe the market in Kenya safaris is ripe for low-cost carriers. The economy is growing and there is a fast growing middle class with IT penetration and credit/debit card usage much more widespread than in many African States,” said Dr Elijah Chingosho-secretary general, African Airlines Association. In an email interview, he said most middle-class people currently travel by surface transport. A low-cost carrier will result in reduced ticket prices and this will make air transport more affordable. Affordable travel Experts maintain that the lowering of the cost air tickets will lead to development of a new markets by attracting people who have never used air transport before. “It will be possible to travel faster, easier and cheaper from Nairobi to Mombasa-especially when required to physically verify cargo at the port,” said William Ojonyo-Chief Executive-Keynote Logistics Limited. Beginning April 1, 2014, Jambo Jet will begin local flights on the Nairobi to Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa routes before venturing to other regional destinations. It costs about Sh1,500 to travel by a luxury bus service from Nairobi to Eldoret in a journey that lasts between five-six hours, while it costs half of this amount and about four hours in a shuttle. KQ’s re-entry into the low-cost carrier business puts it on a collision course with other players already in this segment. The crowded field in low-budget operators includes East African Safari Air Express, a subsidiary of Fly 540 Kenya, which began three weekly flights from Nairobi to Lokichogio a few days.