In a protectionist move aimed at reviving its national carrier, Kenya is now limiting the issuance of new licences to international airlines seeking to fly or increase capacity to Nairobi, reports The East African.
Recently, the Kenyan government withdrew a licence that had been granted to Emirates to launch a third daily flight on the Dubai-Nairobi route, which would have increased its frequency from 14 to 21 a week.
The government has also put on hold licence applications from at least 35 airlines, most of which are seeking approvals to either increase their frequency to Nairobi or switch to larger aircraft to increase capacity.
In defending the move, Kenya’s Transport Ministry Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera said the withdrawal of the licence is part of the government’s plans to protect Kenya Airways. “We need to protect the Nairobi hub specifically for KQ. Increasing the frequency of other airlines to the Nairobi hub is only hurting the national carrier,” he said.
KQ has been losing out to the Middle East airlines on some of its key routes with its traffic declining by 6.8% in 2016 due to its decision to deploy the Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft on the routes as opposed to the larger Boeing 777-300.