Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore yesterday hit out at Kenya Airways for not having a direct flight to Italy.
He said many tourists are discouraged from visitng Kenya and the Coast in particular by the long hours of travel and many flight connections before reaching the destination.
Briatore, who owns the Lion in the Sun resort in Malindi, said the Malindi International Airport should be urgently upgraded to enable airplanes land directly from Europe.
He said this will create more than 25,000 jobs for residents and improve the country’s economy.
Yesterday, KQ said on its Twitter handle it appreciates the feedback on lack of direct flights to the Coast. It did not, however, elaborate if any steps will be taken.
Speaking to journalists at his resort, Briatore said Kenya loses many tourists due to flight complications.
He said the country has the potential to attract tourists in five-star and three-star hotels from Europe, who are forced to go to other destinations to avoid long travelling hours.
Briatore said with a direct flight, it takes only seven hours to reach Kenya from Italy, but due to the connections tourists are forced to change flights more than three times.
“Kenya has a big advantage because it is close to Europe, but tourists have to spend between 15 to 20 hours of flight because Kenya Airways has no flight from Italy,” he said.
The tourists coming from Italy to Kenya have to take a flight to Milan through Istanbul, Nairobi and Mombasa then travel another three hours by road to Malindi.
Briatore said Kenya Airways is not patriotic like Fly Emirates, which promotes tourism for its country.
He said he is satisfied with the Jubilee administration, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto in their bid to revive tourism.
Briatore, who attended the Milan Tourism Expo in October last year, said he was impressed by Uhuru’s speech.
He said people in Europe are scared about terrorism, since it is a global threat affecting the world.