A leaked memo from a senior marketing manager for an international airline that used to fly to Moi International Airport (MIA) in Mombasa sparked a flurry of condemnation of the government’s alleged inaction on authorizing return flights to Mombasa.
Dr. Sam Ikwei, chief executive of the Kenyan Hotel and Catering Association Coastal Branch, said the state has been cold on the resurgence of tourism in an attempt to overprotect national carrier Kenya Airways.
A memo addressed to travel partners stated: “While we wanted to start MIA flights this summer 2022, unfortunately we were unable to obtain the necessary approval from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA). For this reason, we regret to inform you that we had to cancel our flights to Mombasa until October 29, 2022,” the Turkish Airlines marketing team said in a memo.
Coastal tourism stakeholders are calling for an open skies policy to allow international flights to land directly in Mombasa.
Players said making it easier for foreign airlines to enter Mombasa would spur the sector.
Chairman of the Kenya Coastal Tourism Association Mr. Victor Shitakah said that Qatar and Turkish Airlines should be encouraged and given access to flights to Mombasa. [Philip Mwakio]
He said that Fly Emirates and Fly Dubai are also interested in the route to Mombasa.
The open skies policy means liberalizing and facilitating the access and use of national airports for foreign airlines.
Ikway called the latest developments very disturbing news for the ailing travel industry.
“There are people in very high positions of government who are open-minded about the mainstream economic policies designed to unlock our potential as a tourist and commercial hub,” Ikwaye said.
He said that many airlines are looking to fly to Mombasa under an arrangement that will free up and facilitate access and use of national airports by other foreign airlines.
He also wondered why anyone would deny an opportunity that would potentially increase tourist traffic and develop potential as a regional air hub while increasing flexibility for airline operations.
“The government’s desire not to respond to new initiatives borders on economic sabotage against the Coastal Region, which is struggling to change its professional destiny,” he said.
He said that by all standards, opening the skies to other airlines is in the interests of consumers, competition and growth.
“This would be the best time to support the industry in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic because this move will boost travel and trade, spur high-quality job creation in the region, and boost economic growth at the same time,” he said.
Ikway said tourism players are optimistic that Turkish Airlines and other airlines are considering flying to Mombasa.
“They want to land directly, but they are told to land in Nairobi. Guests complain about feverish procedures. Someone is coming from…