Kenya’s tourism industry recovery efforts received a major boost with the re-introduction of charter flights from Munich to Mombasa on Wednesday by German holiday airline Condor.
The carrier had pulled out of the route in 2014 citing insecurity, which was triggered by terrorist attacks.
For the better part of 2015 and this year, the Kenyan coast has been calm after the government addressed security concerns raised by the country’s traditional source markets of United Kingdom, United States of America, France, Germany and Italy.
Between last year and early this year, the UK, USA and France lifted travel advisories against Mombasa and other costal towns, bringing hope to efforts by the government and the private sector to revive tourism.
The return of peace saw the airline make a comeback. The Condor plane arrived at Moi International Airport, Mombasa, with 243 passengers.
Ninety of them remained at the coastal city while 150 passengers were on transit to Zanzibar.
According to the airline’s regional manager for ground operations, Hahn Ekkehard, Condor will operate one flight a week from Munich to Mombasa and then to Zanzibar on Wednesdays.
He said Condor introduced the Munich-Mombasa-Zanzibar route to serve tourists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland markets.
“Our airline decided to introduce flights from Munich to Mombasa due to demand from tourists from Germany and from the neighbouring countries,” he said.
Mr Ekkehard said the airline would operate a flight with a capacity of 259 seats. From next week, he said, the leisure airline would increase flights from Frankfurt to Mombasa from one to two a week to cater for more travellers.
Speaking to the Sunday Nation on phone, Mr Ekkehard said German tourists had developed interest in Mombasa due to the calm enjoyed in the region.
“Mombasa’s image in Germany is very positive due to the prevailing peace in this beautiful city which has been our hub for about 40 years,” he said.
He continued: “Due to increasing passenger demand, we are going to increase flights to two a week from next week to create more room for tourists visiting Mombasa.”
Mr Ekkehard said the airline had promoted Mombasa in Germany cities of Frankfurt and Munich, as well as in Austria and Switzerland, to attract more tourists to Kenya.
He said the promotions had received positive response with more German, Austrian and Swiss holiday makers interested in visiting Kenya.
In November last year, Condor crew returned to stay in Mombasa from Zanzibar following security improvement. The staff, who used to stay in Mombasa for many years, had been moved to Zanzibar in 2014.
Upon their return, Condor head of safety and quality captain Alfred Kohler said the crew were back after the UK government lifted travel advisories against the coastal resort town.
He explained that for the past one-and-a-half years, Condor crew had been staying in Zanzibar or Kilimanjaro in Tanzania after some Western countries issued advisories against the region.
Mr Kohler, who is also the head of Thomas Cook Group Airlines Safety, said the airline had great confidence in the Kenya’s security measures, adding that the crew were glad to be back to Mombasa.
“For over 30 years, Condor crew used to stay in Mombasa since it was our tourism hub; but they had to relocate to Zanzibar due to security concerns,” he said.
He concluded: “We are now happy that Mombasa is a safe destination and that is why Condor crew will be staying here rather than in Tanzania.”