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Kenya Airways eyes expansion in the robust Chinese market

Kenya Airways plans to expand in China, launching a direct Nairobi-Beijing flight, leveraging partnerships with Chinese airlines, and recruiting Chinese-speaking crew, driven by China’s robust aviation market.

The Chinese market, known for its competitive landscape and promising future, remains a cornerstone of Kenya Airways global strategy, according to a senior executive from the airline.

“We anticipate a strong fiscal year ahead, buoyed by the robust performance of China’s aviation sector, which strengthens our confidence in this market,” stated Julius Thairu, Chief Commercial and Customer Officer at Kenya Airways.

Since it entered into the Chinese market in 2005, Kenya Airways has been operating weekly flights from Nairobi to Guangzhou. As the airline approaches its 20th anniversary in China next year, Thairu announced the launch of a new direct flight from Nairobi to Beijing.

“Direct flights from capital to capital will enhance connectivity not just between Kenya and China, but also between Kenya and other African nations,” Thairu noted. He emphasized China’s long-standing role as Africa’s largest trading partner, a position it has held for 15 consecutive years.

Kenya stands as China’s largest trading partner in East Africa, while China is Kenya’s leading trading partner and primary source of imports. Kenya’s rich tourism resources and relaxed visa policies for foreign visitors have made it an increasingly popular destination for Chinese tourists.

To better serve this expanding market, Kenya Airways is collaborating with several Chinese airlines through interline agreements, ground operations partnerships, and code-sharing arrangements. The airline has also been actively recruiting Chinese-speaking cabin crew to enhance service quality.

Thairu, who first visited Beijing for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2006, has since traveled to other major cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Changsha. He expressed admiration for their modernity and rapid development.

“China’s economic development has transitioned to a new phase of high-quality growth after years of rapid expansion,” Thairu observed.

With the upcoming ninth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation set to be held in Beijing later this year, Thairu expressed optimism about forging more cooperative agreements with Chinese airlines.

“We hope to expand KQ’s presence to more destinations within China and across Africa,” he concluded.

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.