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Chinese airline launches flights to Kenya

05 August 2015, 21:34

Nairobi - China Southern Airlines on Wednesday launched its direct flights from Guangzhou to Nairobi as part of efforts to boost trade between the two countries.

The Chinese airline said the new service will have a frequency of three flights a week under the airlines own code, giving passengers destined to Guangzhou and beyond added choices.

"We are happy to open our second direct air route to Africa, having launched our first one between Shenzhen and Mauritius last year," China Southern Airlines chairman Si Xianmin said after the carrier's inaugural flight landed in Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The airline which in 2014 carried over 100 million passengers will fly to and from Nairobi every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

"We hope our additional flights will provide our guests with convenience, besides increasing the number of business and leisure travelers into Africa and Asia," Si added.

He said China and Africa have a time-honored history of friendly relations and close ties and both sides have achieved remarkable results in creation of all fields.

Kenya's national carrier Kenya Airways has been flying to Guangzhou for a number of years now, with China Southern Airlines code sharing on these services, giving the two airlines access into their respective route networks out of their hubs in Nairobi and Guangzhou.

Before the maiden flight, the two airlines shared seven routes, allowing each other access to added destinations in China and South Asia for Kenya Airways and beyond Nairobi for China Southern.

Si said both airlines will now provide 20 flights per week on the new route under the codeshare, making it more convenient for passengers on transit to and from other African countries to China, South East Asia, North East Asia and Australia through its extensive route network.

He said China Southern Airline has the strength to serve Kenya and Africa as a whole based on its intensive route network in China and convenient connections to any city in the Far East country.

China has become Africa's largest trading partner in recent years with trade volumes between the two growing significantly, and is currently valued in excess of 220 billion U.S. dollars.

Africa has also been more and more a tourism destination for Chinese.

Between 2009 and 2014, the number of Chinese visitors to Africa increased rapidly from 380,000 to 3 million.

Kenya's Transport and Infrastructure Principal Secretary Engineer John Mosonik who welcomed the airline said the East African nation will work with the Chinese airline to market Kenya as a top business and tourism destination in Africa.

"We welcome China Southern Airlines and the first group of passengers on this new service. We are also delighted to have the opportunity to work with the airline to market Nairobi and Kenya as a top business and tourism destination in Africa," Mosonik said.

During the event, both Kenya Airways and China Southern Airlines inked a Memorandum of Understanding, detailing their envisaged commercial relationship.

Kenya Airways CEO Mbuvi Ngunze said the Kenyan carrier's customers will now be able to connect to other destinations in China and Asia given China Southern Airlines extensive presence in those markets.

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- Xinhua


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