Written by Wangui Maina, Business Daily, March 31, 2009
Kenya Airways will expand operations in southern Africa with flights to Botswana and Namibia expected to begin in the near future.
Last week, the airline opened an office in Gaborone, Botswana, as it gears to strengthen its network on the continent especially as a cushion during this hard financial times. The new direct route will enable the airline to attract more passengers from the diamond rich country.
“In the last five years, the southern Africa market has significantly grown,” the airlines southern Africa area manager, Ms Rosemary Adogo, said during the launch ceremony.
Botswana has been an offline station with travellers mainly accessing it through South Africa. Kenya Airways has continued to look in the continent for opportunities to drive its business, especially as some of its other routes are adversely affected by the ongoing global financial crisis.
The crisis has led to travellers cutting back on travel budgets as job cuts are witnessed in the West and fears of job security grow. This has seen travel across the world affected, especially on the European and Asian routes.
Earlier in the year, the airline issued a profit warning citing reduced passengers on some of its routes and high hedging costs. To cushion itself from the hard times, the airline is betting on intra-African network expansion to grow its earnings.
Besides Botswana, KQ is looking at expanding into Angola, Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Brazaville, Congo. Europe and the Far East have been adversely affected as both passenger and cargo numbers continue to decline.