Zanzibar makes an appearance on the Qatar Airways map


(Posted 02nd July 2015)

When Qatar Airways yesterday launched the long awaited flights from Doha via Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar, closing another gap in their East African destination map, was the Spice Island’s tourism trade, needless to say, smiling from ear to ear that a major global airline had finally made its maiden flight to Unguja.

Flying initially five times a week, in combination with Kilimanjaro, is this flight predominantly dedicated to the Tanzanian tourism industry, combining safaris and beach vacations.

Qatar Airways however, on occasion of the inaugural flight, brought some added good news with them when an announcement was made that come October the route would be served daily, adding yet more seats and most important, guaranteeing daily departures from any of QR’s destinations around the world a one and two stop service respectively to Zanzibar. In fact will only four of the seven weekly flights then route via Kilimanjaro while the other three flights will operate nonstop out of Doha.

This will no doubt come as a huge disappointment to the Kenya coast’s tourism sector, where Mombasa remains conspicuously absent from the Qatar Airways route network inspite of clear expressions of interest by the airline to fly to Kenya’s Indian Ocean port city.

The arrival of QR in Zanzibar and the instant announcement of going daily within the space of four months has brought the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority back into the crosshairs of critics, who have regularly accused the regulators to be building a Chinese wall around Kenyan airspace. Having kept Tanzania’s Fastjet Tanzania with grotesque allegations out of the Kenyan skies, denying them landing rights in Nairobi, as well as keeping Fastjet PLC out of Kenya altogether until now has earned the responsible staff the evil eye from the Kenyan tourism fraternity.

More than Fastjet though is the case of Qatar Airways of growing concern as clearly the age of the charters to Mombasa is coming to an end and only multiple daily scheduled flights from abroad directly to Mombasa will eventually be able to make up for the air capacity losses the destination has experience over the past years.

In a related development did Qatar Airways also announce the addition of one extra flight per week from Doha to Asmara and to Djibouti, commencing this week already.