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Brussels Airlines Returns to Kenya After 9-Year Hiatus

Brussels Airlines, Belgium’s flag carrier and the largest airline of Belgium has resumed flights into Nairobi, Kenya after a nine-year hiatus.

The airline which is a member of the Lufthansa Group and Star Alliance touched down at the Kenyatta International Airport on Monday night with 288 travelers, enhancing connectivity between Kenya and Belgium.

This marked the first time the airline was landing into Kenya after having previously served the Nairobi route between 2002 and 2015.

Positive Development for Tourism

Speaking during the reception of the airline, David Tanki, who represented the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Board of Directors said that the resumption of flights to Nairobi by Air Brussels was a positive development for tourism as Kenya aims to become a year-round destination known for its diverse and sustainable tourism offerings.

He added that the resumption shows that Belgian and European travelers still have an appetite for Kenyan as a destination.

“The year-round service we shall now be receiving from Airlines Brussels is a significant development for the destination that will boost arrivals throughout all the seasons. This comes as we continue to see interest from other airlines from Europe and other continents into Kenya.

We are pleased to see this airline come back to into Kenya after a long absence and hope that it will bring more people to be inspired by the beauty of Magical Kenya” said Tanki.

Mr. Tanki also exuded optimism in the future growth of the sector, noting that travelers from the larger Europe continent will play a big role in the full turn-around of the sector.

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“Europe is a key source market for Kenya’s Tourism, ranking second with a 29% market share and contributing 572,352 arrivals last year. In 2023, the number of arrivals from Belgium reached 12,960, up from 9,981 in 2022 indicating a growing recognition of Kenya as a desirable destination within Belgian tourism. The entry of Brussels Airlines is particularly timely as we expect to increase in Belgian arrivals into Kenya and further strengthen our numbers,” he said.

Airlines’ Destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa

The resumption of air Brussels flights to Nairobi will now bring the number of the airlines’ destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa to 18. Kenya is the second largest market by frequency with 5 weekly flights by Lufthansa, 6 flights by Euro wings discover into coast and now 6 flights into Nairobi by Air Brussels.

The service will boost passenger transfers for the diverse Belgian travel sector, which includes charter services, business travel and MICE specialists, online travel agencies, and retail travel agents.

Brussels Airlines Chief Executive Officer Dorothea von Boxberg says “We see a very high interest in our home market Belgium to explore Kenya. Our first flights to Nairobi are completely full. Nairobi is a vibrant city and the perfect gateway for an unforgettable trip to Kenya. The other way around we offer connections to Europe and beyond via Brussels to let Kenyans explore the world, study, or grow their businesses,” she said.

Ms Von Boxberg added that the airline was working on ways to have more flights going by the increased demand for business and leisure travel among others as well as a positive market reaction.

According to data from Statbel, the third quarter of 2023 saw 6.92 million trips of Belgians abroad, marking an increase of 3.8%, compared to the same period in 2022. However, international travel numbers have yet to reach the peak of 2019 when 7.15 million trips were recorded during the summer.

The preference for overseas travel remains high, with 64% of Belgians likely to travel abroad for leisure in the next 12 months. Cost and affordability are crucial factors for 34% of Belgians when planning international trips.

The travel preference for Belgian travelers includes eco-friendly travel experiences, priority in sustainable and responsible tourism practices, and value for authenticity, environmental consciousness, and a sense of community engagement among others.

Brussels Airlines Returns to Kenya After 9-Year Hiatus
L R Dorothea von Boxberg CEO Brussels Airlines and KTB Board Member David Tanki during the reception of Brussels Air Looking on is KAA Chairman Hon Caleb Kositanyi
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