After an absence of nearly a decade, Kenya Airways (KQ) is set to resume operations in Eldoret today, intensifying the competition in the North Rift town’s aviation market.

This move puts KQ’s low-cost subsidiary, Jambojet, head-to-head against Skyward Express, the two primary carriers servicing the route presently.

KQ withdrew from the Eldoret route back in 2014 following the commencement of Jambojet’s services to the destination.

However, it briefly resumed operations in 2020 amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The national carrier is rolling out its services with an introductory fare of Ksh8,700 for a one-way ticket, slightly higher than Jambojet’s Ksh7,000 and Skyward’s Ksh8,520 rates.

Eldoret, initially experiencing tepid demand when Jambojet initiated services, has witnessed a surge in passenger numbers over time. More travelers are opting for air travel to circumvent the arduous six-hour journey by road.

According to KQ’s CEO, Allan Kilavuka, the decision to reintroduce flights to Eldoret stems from the substantial demand observed on the route.

“Decisions are based on commercial viability. There is sufficient traffic to justify a KQ flight, and we have listened to the customer,” said Mr Kilavuka.

Jambojet has significantly increased its frequency, currently operating over 12 weekly flights to Eldoret, aligning with the escalating passenger demand. In contrast, KQ will commence its operations with five weekly flights starting today.

The reintroduction of KQ’s services is expected to boost Eldoret’s aviation capacity, with the deployment of Embraer jets capable of accommodating up to 100 passengers across economy and business class configurations. Jambojet typically utilises De Havilland Dash 8 400 aircraft with a seating capacity of 78 passengers.

With the reintroduction of KQ’s flights on the route, passengers can anticipate enhanced connectivity and competitive pricing, further facilitating travel convenience in the North Rift corridor.

gandae@businessdayafrica.org