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KQ gets big lift from increased India flights deal

National carrier Kenya Airways has received a big boost from the signing of an agreement that gives it the right to introduce seven more weekly flights to India, one of Kenya’s strongest trade partners.

A communiqué from India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation indicates that the two countries recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) allowing carriers from both countries to get into more codeshare agreements.

India is one of Kenya’s biggest trade partners with imports from the Asian country valued at Sh253 billion last year. “As per the mandate given India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation, a MoU was signed, whereby seven additional frequencies were allowed to both sides,” the communiqué stated.

“Hyderabad (the capital of the southern Indian state of Telangan) was allowed as an additional point of call on request by Kenyan side.  Domestic codeshare was agreed to from any four points by both sides.”

Kenya also agreed to grant one additional intermediate and beyond point with full 5th freedom rights in Africa to India, the statement further stated.

This means that Indian carriers will be allowed to fly to Kenya, drop off passengers, and then proceed to another destination within the continent where they already have landing rights.

Kenya and India signed the MoU during the International Civil Aviation Negotiations meeting in Nassau, Bahamas, between December 5-9.

The annual meeting gives states a central location to conduct multiple bilateral negotiations. India also signed similar MoUs with Finland, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Omar, Serbia, Greece, Qatar and the European Commission.

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KQ, as the airline is known by its international code, last month unveiled an enhanced codeshare agreement with Jet Airways, India’s second-largest international airline.

The partnership now allows passengers direct connections to three cities-— namely New Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad. The carrier is seeking a larger share of the lucrative Nairobi-­Mumbai route by connecting passengers to hinterland destinations.

The national carrier was until then operating two daily flights on the route, where it is in a race with rivals such as Etihad, Qatar, and Ethiopian Airlines, among others.

“We see a lot of demand into domestic India from Kenya and East Africa, with passengers travelling mostly for business, leisure or health tourism,” said Mbuvi Ngunze, Kenya Airways managing director.

India was until 2013 Kenya’s top importer of goods after which it was dethroned by China. Kenya mainly imports textiles, pharmaceuticals, industrial machinery, vehicles, textiles and a semi-processed goods from India.

Last year, Kenya imported Sh252.32 billion worth of goods from New Delhi and exported goods worth Sh8.9 billion, according to the Economic Survey 2016.

China shipped goods worth Sh320.8 billion to Kenya during the same period, underlying its growing economic significance in the country. Imports from China include heavy machinery, electronics, vehicles, textiles and a range of household goods.

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