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Aviation industry on a recovery path

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has revealed that aviation sector in the country has gradually recovered after a prolonged downturn due to Covid 19 pandemic.

KAA Managing Director Alex Gitari attributed the growth in the domestic air travel following an increased number of passengers plying various routes in the last seven months and the launch of new airline companies in the local market.

MD Gitari was speaking at the Kisumu International Airport (KIA)  during the inauguration of a new aviation firm, Renegade Air Limited that will fly direct flights from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to Kisumu.

“As we may all be aware, the effects of the pandemic resulted in significant decline in air travel. Therefore, it is indeed my delight to see the Renegade family launch flights to Kisumu. This demonstrates that the process of recovering is bearing fruits and also complements the steps the authority is taking in ensuring that we get back to where we were prior to the pandemic,” said Gitari.

The number of passengers plying the route has increased from 101,000 between January and July 2020 to 296,000 for the same period this year. This has also surpassed the 2019 figures of 270, 000.

While officiating the airline’s reception ceremony at the Kisumu International Airport, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution, Eugene Wamalwa encouraged air operators to fly to the Lake Region as the Government completes the expansion and rehabilitation of airstrips in Kakamega, Kitale, Suneka, Migori, Homabay, Bungoma and Busia to boost the domestic aviation industry and the Western tourism circuit.

Addressing the concerns raised on the deplorable status of Wilson Airport, Gitari said they are working closely with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure to carry out the necessary upgrades at the facility.

Works are already ongoing at other airstrips such as Migori, Suneka, Kitale and Kakamega to improve connectivity in the region.

The Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution, Eugene Wamalwa and Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o alighting from the maiden flight of Renegade Air flights at the Kisumu International Airport on Thursday. It will be plying Nairobi Wilson Airport and Kisumu routePhotos by Robert Ojwang’

Kisumu International Airport handles over 30 flights daily with over 1300 passengers per day; the advent of Renegade air will increase the facility’s passenger numbers and add the options for air travel to the lakeside city.

“The choice of Nairobi –Kisumu route will lead to increase in passenger numbers, boost trade, air and road connectivity but also enhance western tourism circuit within the Lake Region Economic Block (LREB), ultimately transforming the region,” said Wamalwa.

CS Wamalwa expressed that the airline couldn’t have come to Kisumu at a better time as the County is preparing to host the Kisumu Investments Forum in October 2021 and the 9th Edition of the Aficities Conference scheduled for May next year. Both conventions are expected to attract thousands of delegates.

“We must improve on connectivity to make this region a magnate for investors,” the CS added.

On his part, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o welcomed the new entrant into the Kisumu airspace citing that it is an indicator that the Lakeside City has become the East African Regional Business Hub.

He noted that leaders at the two levels of government are exploring areas to collaborate to make the aviation industry and the development of airports and airstrips be the movers and shakers of development in the country.

Nyong’o underscored his commitment and support to all industry players as they market Kisumu as the best destination for both local and international investors.

Renegade Air Managing Director Kennedy Maina said their choice for Kisumu as the second destination was due to the rising passenger demand and also ideal in serving the western region. He believes their entry into the market will support efforts in reviving the tourism industry in the country by coming up with competitive rates.

The airline hopes to open up the western circuit by partnering with hotels to sell accommodation and flying package reasonable for common mwananchi. The airline one way ticket will cost Sh 5000 between Nairobi to Kisumu with return tickets at Sh10,000.

Travelers would enjoy daily flights from 7.30am and 4.30pm from Wilson Airport and from Kisumu Airport at 8.30am and 17.45 pm.

Kisumu will be the second destination for Renegade Air after Wajir County.

Maina said the firm will also introduce flights to Homa Bay County soon.

The new aviation firm joins Kenya Airways, Jambojet, Safarilink, 748 Air Services and Fly540 on the Nairobi, Kisumu route.

By Robert Ojwang’

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