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Air France riding on comeback

Steve Umidha @steveumidha

French national carrier Air France Sunday night resumed flights between Paris and Nairobi after 18-year hiatus, a return marked by a new joint venture with Kenya Airways (KQ) and KLM Royal Dutch airlines.

The commercial joint venture (JV) valued at around $500,000 (Sh50.4 million) and one million passengers yearly, will see the three airlines’ customers reserve flights operated on a code-share basis by one of the three airlines on round-trip services between Paris and Nairobi and Amsterdam-Nairobi.

The move will see up to 10 flights operated per week among the three airlines, in a pact also expected to consolidate Air France-KLM partnership in the East African region.

“Air France is back to stay,” said Senior Vice President Africa, Frank Legre, yesterday when announcing the return of Air France which previously served Nairobi until March 2000.

The airline will begin inaugural three weekly flights between the two cities which would later be increased to five and seven weekly flights depending on the capacity and customer demand.

Kenya’s national carrier, KQ had last year applied to Kenya’s Competition Authority to be allowed to expand its joint venture agreement with KLM to include Air France.

KQ and KLM joint venture has been in existence since 2004. The new joint venture will see Air France commence three flights between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Nairobi, 14 weekly flights to be operated by KQ including seven Paris Charles de Gaulle – Nairobi flights and seven other flights on Amsterdam Schiphol – Nairobi frequencies and seven weekly flights by KLM between Amsterdam-Schiphol and Nairobi.

Thought to have fuelled the return of Air France in Kenya is the increasing number of French companies setting base in Nairobi, with about 80 French businesses having operations in the country today.

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