South African low-cost airline 1Time will begin flights between Johannesburg and Mombasa in March.
The introduction of the new flight is expected to stimulate the tourism market and grow the number of South Africans visiting Kenya and vice versa.
“Our initial target market is the outbound South African leisure traveller,” said the airline’s commercial director Mike Bond in an email. “There is no direct service currently and we anticipate the attractions would be very popular with South Africans.”
As part of marketing the new service, the airline has chartered a flight that will be received by Tourism minister Najib Balala in Mombasa tomorrow. Players in the sector are positive that the move by the airline would boost the number of visitors to the Coast.
“We welcome any direct flights to Mombasa,” said Sarova Whitesands general manager Mohammed Hersi. “South Africa is a potential market for us but the biggest issue is accessibility.”
Mr Bond said the airline officials, South African tourism players including tour operators and travel agents as well as media would be on board the chartered plane.
The South Africans would be in the country on a fact finding mission and to sell the flights. There are no direct services connecting South Africa and Mombasa. The Kenya Airways previously had a flight on the route but withdrew it.
The service by 1Time would offer alternative and affordable flights for travellers connecting between the coastal town of Mombasa and Johannesburg. Flights are expected to cost between Sh51,600 and Sh68,800 ($600 and $800), said Mr Bond. A similar flight on Kenya Airways, connecting through Nairobi, costs Sh74,562 ($867).
South Africa is one of Kenya’s leading sources of visitors from the region, either on business or leisure travel. As of October the number of visitors from South Africa stood at 31,354, of these majority came in through Jomo Kenyatta International, according to Kenya Tourist Board data.
Mr Bond said that Mombasa has a lot to offer South African leisure tourists especially water activities, diving, fishing and other sea-related sports.