Qatar Airways eyes Mombasa for a second time


(Posted 27th April 2017)

When some years ago Qatar Airways announced plans to fly to Mombasa it was part of an Eastern African rollout which at the time wanted to combine an extra flight into Nairobi with Kilimanjaro International – located between Moshi and Arusha – while Mombasa was to be combined with Dar es Salaam, also due to get an extra flight.
However, the Kenyan government welshed at the time when verbal promises made were not put in writing and only days before the launch of these flights a red light came on, leaving Qatar Airways bewildered of what had happened.
Dar es Salaam was then hastily combined with Kilimanjaro to operate the promised service and Kenya was poorer off at the time as Mombasa was denied – much to the anger and frustration of the Kenya Coast tourism fraternity – another huge international connection via Doha.
While at the Arabian Travel Market did the airline’s Group CEO Mr. Akbar Al Baker confirm that a number of additional destinations was planned for 2018, among them once again Mombasa. No specific launch date was however given when the announcement was made and while coast hoteliers are now hopeful that this time it will happen, have others voiced caution given the Kenyan government’s track record vis a vis connectivity into Mombasa.
Recent mutual state visits to and from Qatar may have helped to pave the way for this last of East Africa’s major destinations to be served by Qatar Airways, which already flies to Entebbe and Kigali on a daily basis, twice a day to Nairobi with a switch from the Airbus A320 to the larger Airbus A330 in October, and also serves Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in Tanzania.
The Kenya coast hotel industry at present faces a challenge again over occupancies as the incentive regime for foreign charters has not yielded the full results anticipated but the upcoming elections too have cast some shadows over the destination as foreign tour operators appear to hold back with bookings for the months of July and August.
As always will time tell what will happen but until then keep watching this space.