Kenya Airways has launched direct flights to Guangzhou, China’s third largest city in a move that is expected to deepen trade connections between Africa and the Far East.
The airline’s inaugural flight departed from its Nairobi hub at 00:00 Hours Kenyan time, landing in the Chinese city at 16:00 Hours local time on Tuesday, November 19, 2013.
The route is served by Kenya Airways’ newly acquired state-of-the-art Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which is currently the biggest on the fleet with a capacity of 400 passengers.
Speaking during a ceremony held in Guangzhou to mark the inaugural flight, Kenya Airways’ Chief Operating Officer Mbuvi Ngunze noted that the non-stop flights between Nairobi and Guangzhou would enhance codeshare services between Kenya Airways and China Southern Airlines.
“These direct flights will strengthen ties between the Far East and Africa by facilitating interaction, besides enhancing the codeshare partnership between Kenya Airways and China Southern Airlines,” said Mr Ngunze.
The direct flights between Nairobi and Guangzhou will be operated three times a week – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – departing from Nairobi just after midnight, while maintaining the current schedule of four flights a week to Guangzhou via Bangkok of four times a week. Together with code-share partner, China Southern, whose hub is Guangzhou, Kenya Airways will be able to service most parts of China. China Southern is the biggest carrier in Asia.
The introduction of the non-stop flights between Nairobi and Guangzhou comes as Kenya and the Far East strengthen trade and tourism connections. At the moment, Kenya is working towards cultivating China as a key source market.
During the recent launch of the Boeing 777-300ER, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta indicated that his government targets attracting at least 0.1 per cent of China’s vast population of 1.3 billion people as tourists.