Kenya Airways is expected to resume direct flights between Gaborone and the Kenyan capital, Nairobi shortly. The airline suspended the route back in November 2016 as part of its network restructuring. On his return from a three-day state visit to Kenya this week, President Mokgweetsi Masisi told the local media that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to resume the route.
“A number of MoUs were signed by the government of Botswana and the government of Kenya. One was on ICT, one on bilateral air service agreement which will allow for the resumption of direct flights between Gaborone and Nairobi operated by Kenya Airways and Air Botswana,” revealed Masisi, adding that Air Botswana would also look at ways to complement the initiative.
While a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) signed recently by Botswana and Kenya gives the national airlines of the respective countries equal chance to introduce direct flights between the two African countries, it would appear Kenyan Airways – code-named KQ – stands to gain more from the BASA.
The agreement, which was signed by the Transport ministers of the respective countries in Nairobi, Kenya during President Masisi’s recent state visit, is seen as the first step towards establishing direct flights between Botswana and Kenya. Botswana’s transport minister – Dorcus Makgato says BASA is a tool that sets the basis of what the airlines can do to negotiate.
“It will help Air Botswana and Kenya Airways to be in a position to negotiate”, said Makgato this week.
Despite the BASA’s levelling of the ground, early indications are that Kenya Airways will once again be the first to take to the skies. The East African nation is said to have made it clear that it intends to resume its Nairobi – Gaborone direct flights.
“Kenya Airways has committed to resume its services soon”, Makgato said.
Botswana’s national airline, Air Botswana is still battling to find its ground on scheduled flights – both domestic and regional. As a result, its chances of flying the Nairobi way soon appear bleak.
In fact, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said; “The agreement will allow for the resumption of direct flights between Gaborone and Nairobi operated by Kenya Airways. Air Botswana will see the extent to which they would tag into that by way of complementing what Kenya Airways would be doing”, said Masisi at a press conference in the capital Gaborone, a day after his return from Kenya.
The development represents a further boost to Botswana’s airways following the recent announcement that Qatar Airways will be launching direct international flights to Gaborone from October.
The Middle East airline will operate three return flights a week to Gaborone on Airbus A350-900. The aircraft fits 36 in business class and 247 in economy.
Source: sundaystandard.info, thevoicebw.com