Sunday, September 27, 2020

AB, Kenya Airways in historic partnership to service new Gaborone-Kenya route

National carrier, Air Botswana, and East African skies heavyweight, Kenya Airways, have entered into a partnership that will see the two servicing the new Gaborone-Nairobi route.

Under the code-sharing deal, Air Botswana will sell seats on Kenya Airways direct flights, beginning September 4th between Nairobi and Gaborone.

The Managing Director of Kenya Airways (General Sales Agent), Mahesh Patel, opened the launch of flights on Friday. He said that Nairobi will be opening the second hub to Botswana, the first one being Oliver Tambo in Johannesburg.

“It is indeed a historic event; it is the first time we have merged with Air Botswana, and I am glad to express my gratitude to the partnership,” said Patel.

Kenya Airways will also open up global route to Air Botswana bookings.

The Acting Commercial Manager of Air Botswana, Helen Chilisa, said that there is nothing to be skeptical about as code sharing is a common industry practice, allowing airlines to earn revenue by selling tickets on each other’s flights.

“It is a moment of pride to be accepting such an opportunity from Kenya Airways and it is a content step in the right direction,” said Chilisa.

Chilisa mentioned that it is a 50/50 partnership. Air Botswana will be selling seats to Kenya Airways.

“Even when booking, Air Botswana puts its own code number on the reservation and advertises the route as part of its own network,” she said.

The three weekly flights will be operating on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The travel times for these flights are such that departure from Nairobi will be at 0720hrs and arrival at 1705hrs on Tuesday, Friday and departure at 2000hrs on Saturday arrival being at 0620hrs on Sunday. That means passengers can access the vast KQ African Network.

The code share will encourage tourist traffic and intra-Africa business travel and will also help to establish Sir Seretse Khama Airport as an attractive alternative to Johannesburg as a regional aviation hub.

The Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications of Kenya Airways, Dick Omondi, said he is proud to be part of the project of putting Kenya Airways to Gaborone. He said that they will be connecting tourism to Botswana as a tourism attraction area.

“This will bring more opportunities to businessmen to transport cargo, as one of the services we will be providing,” said Omondi. Other services will be fax services and frequent flyer programmer of passengers. Kenya Airways Cargo will offer cargo space on the belly capacity of these flights further bolstering Botswana- Kenya Relations.

Omondi also said that they will be accumulating points for passengers when they travel. “The more you travel, the more you are likely to travel on discount next time,” he said.

He also mentioned that they ensure safety grounds at all means.
“We have a training programme which cost 2 million Kenya shillings, where we educate our employees. It is done at the new training centre called Pride Centre,” he said.

Air Botswana will, however, continue with its usual routes. The return airline ticket for the direct flight from Gaborone to Nairobi will be P3, 300 before taxes.

“It will also depend on the time of booking since the rates can be low or high and passengers will have the privilege to book online,” said Omondi.

With the case of airborne diseases which are prevailing more on flights from one place to the other, Omondi said it is the government that is responsible for the health of people, and should ensure that health is guaranteed at all times.
“We cannot stop people form getting into the airline,” he said.

Adding on that, Chilisa said that is why they work closely with the relevant authorities, being the Civil Aviation Authority, the government and health authorities.

Omondi mentioned that they made estimations of about 475 passengers a week of all the three days. He also said that as much as they have security at Jomo Kenyatta Airport, they encourage individuals to safe guard their surroundings.

“We give passengers a tag with their details to put into their luggage in case it gets lost, but it also helps if they put a business card too,” he said.

Mphi Tlhomelang, Acting CEO of Air Botswana, said they expect to have more customers, more services and more opportunities.

“We rely on our customers to support us and intend to nurture the relationship and take it to higher levels,” she said.

Travelers in and out of Botswana now have an alternative travel hub of Jomo Kenyatta International, through which to access destinations in the rest of Africa, Europe, Far East and the Middle East. It will be using Boeing 737-700 and 800.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.