ZANZIBAR CELEBRATES ANNOUNCEMENT BY QATAR AIRWAYS TO LAUNCH FLIGHTS TO THE ISLAND
(Posted 22nd March 2015)
Qatar Airways has today announced the launch of five weekly services from Doha to the Spice Island of Zanzibar, in conjunction with a stop at Kilimanjaro International Airport, combining safaris and beach vacations for travelers flying with them from across the world to Tanzania.
Zanzibar will be Qatar Airways’s third destination in Tanzania, effectively covering all key aviation gateways in that country. Flights from Doha to Kilimanjaro will effective 01st of July be nonstop and then continue on to Zanzibar before returning to Doha, delinking JRO from the stop in Dar es Salaam. The launch of Zanzibar will bring Qatar Airways’ African destinations to 20 overall and 6 in East Africa, where the airline already serves Entebbe, Kigali and Nairobi. The launch of flights to Zanzibar fulfills a promise made by the airline’s CEO several years ago on the occasion of the launch of flights into Kigali, when, answering a question from this correspondent he was swift to affirm his interest to add Zanzibar and also Mombasa to the route network.
Said the Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar al Baker when making the announcement: ‘Today’s announcement of new services to Zanzibar reflects our commitment to connect diverse cities via our Doha hub and offer our passengers an extensive range of exciting global destinations. As our 20th gateway in Africa, Zanzibar will strengthen our presence as one of the biggest airlines flying to the African continent. I would like to thank the Tanzanian government for supporting our newest route to Zanzibar. The exposure of Zanzibar to the world through Qatar Airways’ global network will enable Tanzania to attract even more tourists and businesses alike’.
His pointed thank you notice to the Tanzanian government will no doubt be read in neighbouring Kenya with some level of dismay where tourism sources are said to be dumbstruck by this latest development. This being a Sunday it was only possible to speak to two regular commentators at senior level and both professed not to have heard about it until now before equally expressing their upset with their own regulators. Not wishing to be named did one of the two say: ‘We were all hopeful when in January you reported that the Qatar Airways CEO had expressed his continued desire to have the airline eventually fly to Mombasa. You also said back then that it would take certain steps from the Kenyan regulators to make this happen and it is clear that had not taken place so far. Like the mad situation these guys at KCAA put Kenya as a whole in last week over refusing Fastjet landing rights in Nairobi. It seems obvious that KCAA has become a body preventing tourism to source new markets and no one any longer understands what they are up to, what policy they pursue, if any that is and what their purpose is in regard to nurturing more tourism arrivals through targeted airlines. I should congratulate Zanzibar for their success because this is huge for them. Anywhere Qatar Airways flies to they make a success out of it and Zanzibar will be no different. It will give the island a big boost in confidence and the market will move with the times. We in Mombasa however again feel abandoned and deserted by our government which has not even released the task force report yet. This is very depressing really’.
Indeed have the Kenyan aviation regulators a case to answer, and in the case of the spat with Tanzania it is not that they have not been warned. In fact, on the occasion of the launch flight by RwandAir from Entebbe into Nairobi they made sure that at the press conference not one individual from them was in the room to face the press and the music by being publicly challenged what dubious and murky role they played to delay those flights, and questions why airlines like Qatar Airways are still kept off the Mombasa route inspite of desperate pleas by the coast tourism fraternity.
The hiding game however is now over after Tanzania slapped Kenyan airlines with a series of punitive measures, with Kenya Airways the hardest hit when their hitherto 42 weekly flights were reduced to just 14. Perhaps it is time that the Kenyan parliament drags the regulators in to the committee rooms now to own up and explain their actions under oath, considering the often flimsy reasons why parliament in the past they came down hard on others for literally no reason at all. Watch this space.