From the East African:
The entry of Britain’s second largest airline, Virgin Atlantic, on the London-Nairobi route starting this year, has elicited mixed reactions in the Kenya travel and tourism industry, with predictions ranging from reduced fares and convenience for travellers to loss of or reduction of commissions for travel agencies.
The airline will operate a 240-seater Airbus 340-300 offering 34 upper classg, 35 premium economy seats and 171 economy on its daily flights from Heathrow to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Sources in the travel industry say they are anticipating a price war by Virgin Atlantic — famed for its rock bottom prices and dubbed “the people’s airline” — as it seeks to break the dominance of Kenya Airways and British Airways, the only two airlines currently operating direct daily flights on the Nairobi-London route.
Other airlines operating the Nairobi-London route are Swiss Air, Sabena, South African Airways Ethiopian Airways and Qatar through their home bases. Virgin has had to fight fierce pricing battles with BA over control of Britain’s travel market and the war is expected to spill over into Kenya.
“We are expecting a price war that will cut the cost of travel, which is beneficial to travellers. But there are many factors that determine the eventual rate and it is difficult to say how low the price will go,” said Nital Modasia, a sales and marketing executive with Bunson Travel.
She said Virgin Atlantic will give travellers and travel agents an option, which is good for competition.