THE planned launch of direct flights between Kenya and Morocco has lagged because of delay in delivery of Dreamliner planes to airlines that had intention to operate the route, it has emerged. Meanwhile, Korean Air has finally launched flights between Seoul and Nairobi.
The inaugural flight touched down in Nairobi yesterday at 5am. The airline will operate three flights weekly between the two capitals and will cut travel time that passengers used to take on the route by 50 per cent to 13 hours.
Ali Bajaber of Kenya's Honorary Consul in Morocco said that after talks between Moroccan delegation with Air Maroc and Kenya Airways which both have shown interest in the route; it has emerged that the delay in acquiring the new planes has affected expansion plans on the route. "Royal Air Maroc confirmed that after feasibility study, Nairobi showed it is a high feasible destination," said Bajaber.
He revealed that KQ had planned to launch the Casablanca-Nairobi route combining it with Beirut. However KQ has already announced plans to commence flights to Beirut later in the year with no mention of Casablanca, Morocco's capital city. "Both carriers share the same feeling between the two destinations. Let's hope and pray that the dreamliners will be delivered soon."
KQ ordered for nine deramliners in 2006 and expected the first one to be delivered in 2010 but the delivery has since been pushed fourth quarter 2013. All the airlines that had ordered for the planes had to wait longer as the plane suffered some technical setbacks that caused delays in delivery.
Morocco's ambassador to Kenya Abdelilah Benryane said that the signing of bilateral air transport agreement is also yet to take place but was optimistic that it will be fast tracked and done before year end.
The two were speaking after a meeting between a Morocco government and private sector delegation with players in the tourism industry in Kenya. The two parties are working on cooperation areas aimed at boosting tourism between the two countries.
Morocco receives about 10 million tourists per year compared to Kenya's nearly 2 million vistors per year. It is on this basis that the Ministry of Tourism signed a partnership deal with Morocco to share information and training among other things to help expand source markets for both countries.
Kenya Tourism Federation CEO Agatha Juma however noted that unlike in Morocco where the government walks the talk on tourism upgrade, in Kenya the government has been sluggish to act on proposals to grow the sector. On his part Bajaber said further that a direct flight would increase incoming tourists from Morocco who are keen on touring Kenya but urged the Kenya Tourism Board to intervene and lobby for competitive pricing. He noted that the current prices of tour packages were too high.