The Kenyan government has moved to block Dubai airline Emirates’ plans for a third daily service to Nairobi.
Kenya’s Star newspaper quoted the country’s transport principal secretary Irungu Nyakera as telling Emirates’ Nairobi executive secretary Carolyne Kyule the service would be suspended in a letter dated January 20.
This came the day after Emirates announced the route on January 19, saying saying it would increase its number of flights between the two cities to 21 a week when it begins on June 1.
An Emirates spokesperson confirmed that the approval granted to operate a third daily flight between Dubai and Nairobi has been withdrawn by the Kenyan transport authorities.
“The withdrawal of the already granted approval by the Kenyan transport authorities is surprising given that the valid air services agreement between the two countries allows Emirates to operate flights to Nairobi without any restriction,” the spokesperson said.
“We will engage with the Kenyan authorities to address any concerns so that our third daily flight can be launched as planned.
“This does not affect Emirates’ two other daily flights between Dubai and Nairobi which are operating as scheduled.”
Kenya is said to be seeking a review of its bilateral air service agreement with the UAE to ensure parity “of rights granted”, according to Star.
“Our earlier approval for flight EK 717/718 is subsequently withdrawn,” Nyakera was quoted as saying.
Aviation data provider ch-aviation said Emirates currently holds 50,040 weekly seats on the route, or 49.89 per cent of the market, compared to Kenya Airways’ 2,653.
It estimated the additional flight would give Emirates 6,480 seats a week, equal to 62.33 per cent of the total market.