Virgin Atlantic says adios to Kenya

Virgin Atlantic ends flights to kenyaAfter five years, Virgin Atlantic has cancelled its London-Nairobi route. (Image source: Peter Russell)The curtain is set to fall on Virgin Atlantic’s activity in Kenya after the airline announced it would suspend flights on the London-Nairobi route in September

Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer Julie Southern said the airline decided to withdraw operations on the route due to increasing costs, particularly the high fuel prices and a challenging economic environment during the past five years in both Kenya and Europe.

Southern commented, “We have taken the difficult decision to withdraw our services between Nairobi and London. Despite the best efforts of our employees, external factors, including the high price of fuel, increasing aviation taxes in the UK, and insufficient passenger numbers throughout the past five years have contributed to the decision.”

With no indication of the situation improving in the near future, as the aviation industry continues to be hit by turbulence, Virgin Atlantic will now deploy its aircrafts to routes with the right level of demand as to be financially viable.

Virgin Atlantic, owned by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, has been flying on the London-Nairobi route since 2007. The last flight will be on September 24, 2012.

The airline said that since launching operations on the route, British Air Passenger Duty (APD) has risen by over 100 per cent and fuel costs have increased by more than 50 per cent.

The exit of Virgin Atlantic from the London-Nairobi route is good news for Kenya Airways and British Airways, the two airlines that have largely dominated the route.

It paints, however, a dark picture of Kenya’s efforts to market itself as Africa’s interconnection hub.

John Muchira

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