29-05-2023 by Leni Frau
In view of the upcoming tourist season in Kenya, and especially for those frequenting the coastal destinations, airline ticket booking habits are changing.
The increasingly unaffordable prices of companies flying to Mombasa are diverting more and more frequent flyers to the African country on flights to Nairobi, with the possibility of booking even well in advance (especially with the domestic line Jambojet, Kenya Airways' branch) the route to Mombasa, Malindi, Diani or Lamu depending on the destination chosen.
Let's look at the pros and cons of this choice in terms of price, timing and convenience.
Flights to Mombasa are becoming prohibitively expensive and will remain so at least until, hopefully as early as next July or November at the latest, the government will approve the so-called 'open skies policy', allowing any airline that requests it, to land on Mombasa, allowing Kenyans, and not only foreign tourists, to fly in the opposite direction. For instance, Turkish Airways would also fly back to the coastal city tomorrow if they reopened the route from Istanbul, while Qatar currently cannot consider the possibility, but already from Doha brings tourists to Zanzibar, a cheap competitor to the Kenyan coast.
Among the airlines that would resume flights to Mombasa, interrupted before the pandemic, there are also the Dutch KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa, which for now is only increasing the flights of its charter company, Eurowings, up to four a week, but with prices from scheduled flights, even though there are convenient connections with many Italian airports.
It is only natural that if there were more flights and competition between airlines in Mombasa, prices would fall considerably and allow a wider choice for those who want to fly from Europe or Asia to the Kenyan coast.
Meanwhile, Nairobi offers more affordable prices, especially by booking in advance and organising with schedules and logistics. Egypt Air, for example, offers very similar travel solutions to Ethiopian Airlines, in terms of flight hours and overall travel, with a slightly lower quality of aircraft and service. But it costs at least half as much. It arrives in Nairobi at somewhat inconvenient times, for example there is a four-hour wait at the airport before going on to Malindi or Diani. For luggage there is no problem, an extra piece of luggage on Jambojet costs less than 10 euros.
Even Turkish on Nairobi has somewhat inconvenient timetables, but costs much less than Ethiopian on Mombasa.
Not to mention that often, if you can decide on a later date, you can also find bargains with Oman Air, Saudia and with Emirates and Qatar themselves, which are the best even if the travelling hours are a little longer. On the other hand, both arrive in the Kenyan capital at times compatible with connecting to one of the coastal destinations.
It should be pointed out, however, that check-out (and customs) must be done in Nairobi, unless you embark with Kenya Airways (but not with Jambojet) for the sole destination of Mombasa, having travelled with one of the companies in the 'Sky Team Alliance' network, i.e. KLM, Air France, Saudia, remembering that ITA is also a partner and can connect Sky Team Alliance flights with Italy, via the airports of Amsterdam or Paris.
The argument (which is also that of the Neos charter, i.e. the only direct flight currently existing between Italy and Kenya) is simple: if the priority is to save money, you have to give up certain comforts and lose a few extra hours. If flying direct or almost direct is more important to you, you should spare no expense, because nowadays this 'privilege' with Kenya costs you more than in the past.
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