Entebbe-Nairobi airline route launch on January 10

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The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted 5th freedom rights to Uganda’s “adopted” airline, Rwandair to launch flights on the Entebbe-Nairobi route beginning January 10.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted 5th freedom rights to Uganda’s “adopted” airline, Rwandair to launch flights on the Entebbe-Nairobi route beginning January 10. This action will help to fill the void created by the halt of operations by Air Uganda.

Rwandair first launched flights from Entebbe to Juba before setting its eyes on Nairobi. Initially blocked by the Kenya CAA, it took a directive from the Heads of State of the Northern Corridor Cooperation, when airline officials met for their last summit on December 11 in Nairobi to break the deadlock.

Kenya in turn was swift to position its own airlines when yesterday Jambojet was granted route rights to, among other destinations, Entebbe, Juba, and Kigali, clearly setting the stage for cutthroat competition in which fares will play a major role and also service levels, where RwandAir has clearly one up on low-cost carriers.

Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority has reportedly granted Jambojet an initial one year license to fly from Nairobi into the wider Eastern African region. A regular aviation source in Nairobi confirmed that besides Entebbe was Jambojet also granted rights to fly to Juba, Kigali, Bujumbura and Addis Ababa. Further rights to Tanzanian destinations like Mwanza, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, while granted by the Kenya CAA, will however be harder to operationalize as this gives the Tanzanian CAA the long-awaited opportunity to reciprocate the blocking of Fastjet’s application to fly from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi.

No comments could be obtained from Kenya overnight, owing to ongoing travel, but it remains to be seen which routes Jambojet will first try to add to their list of domestic destinations, which include Mombasa, Eldoret, and Kisumu. Jambojet operates a fleet of presently three Boeing B737-300s which it leases from parent company Kenya Airways, which has retired its 300 fleet when converting two into freighters and leasing out the remaining aircraft to Jambojet. The Kenyan LCC operates the three Boeings in a single-class economy configuration.

Experience from the Jambojet startup shows that Kenya Airways has yielded slots to their low-cost subsidiary and in fact ceded all flights to Eldoret to Jambojet, while reducing the number of Kenya Airways services to Mombasa and Kisumu. Currently, Kenya Airways flies as many as 5 times a day between Nairobi and Entebbe and there is some speculation if some of these frequencies, especially off peak when there is more point to point traffic on the route than connecting traffic, may also be yielded to Jambojet to operate in code share with Kenya Airways.

RwandAir will use either Boeing B737-800s or a Bombardier CRJ900NextGen, both offering business and economy class, for the Nairobi route, which will turn Entebbe into RwandAir’s second hub after Kigali.

Initially there will be two flights per day between Entebbe and Nairobi, and travel agents have in advance of the launch already pledged their support for RwandAir, which has won over the Ugandan market with affordable fares, punctuality, good inflight services, and the option to join “Dream Miles” the RwandAir frequent flyer program which offers cardholders a range of added services.

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Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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