• The National carer launched the Geneva, Rome routes amid efforts to grow earnings.
• Kenya Airways also eyeing the Chinese market in its bid of route expansion.
The launch of Kenya Airways’ direct flights to Geneva is expected to help reduce delays passengers travelling from Nairobi face.
Passengers travelling from Nairobi have previously had a stop in Amsterdam.
UNCTAD secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi on Thursday said due to the traffic on the Amsterdam route, there are often delays which can prove costly for travelers.
Kituyi gave an analogy of how delays affect Kenyans travelling from Nairobi to Geneva.
“This is the experience of a typical African: Imagine you have frozen chapatti and kunde to take with you, hoping to get it to the freezer as soon as you get to Geneva, only to find your luggage did not arrive on time. When it arrives 24 hours later, your food heads straight to the disposal bag,” Kituyi said.
He spoke during a meeting following KQ’s inaugural direct flight to Geneva.Also present were Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma, Tourism’s Najib Balala, Labour’s Ukur Yattani and Kenya Airports Authority chairman Julius Karangi.
Geneva Canton Vice President Serge Busco, Geneve Aeroport CEO Andre Shneider, KQ chief executive Sebastian Mikosz and chairman Michael Joseph were also in attendance.
Kituyi said the launch of the direct flights will give Kenya an opportunity to market itself better.
“Everywhere you go (in Geneava), you find a man with a turban selling roses at 10 times its cost in Kenya and they are called roses from Amsterdam.The direct flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam gives the first opportunity to make the Swiss market know that Kenyan roses are actually from Kenya,” he said.
A small bouquet of about four roses goes for 20 Swiss Francs (Sh2,050).
Kituyi said Kenya also has the opportunity to grow as a digital hub.
“The UN is moving its centres to four global units. Nairobi is the global financial services centre for the UN. All payrolls and pensions are handled from there. There will be more human traffic between Geneva and Nairobi and staffers can now commute directly.”
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said Kenya had delivered on its promise to land its plane in Geneva following a visit by then Swiss President Alain Berset to Kenya in July last year.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Berset had agreed to cooperate in areas including aviation to strengthen relations.
Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Sebastian Mikosz acknowledged the Geneva route is very competitive, but added that KQ has taken a safe approach by launching two routes – Geneva and Rome – to spread the risk.
“We know nobody was waiting for us to arrive (in Geneva) and there are many other airlines here,” he said.
On a light note, he sai, “When we landed and I went downstairs and saw the other airlines, I asked myself if we should have considered a smaller airport”.
Kenya Airways has nine wide body aircraft – 787 Dreamliners.
Geneva and Rome bring to five the airline’s destintions to Europe.
The airline is focused on route expansion as it seeks to turn its fortunes and move into profitability.