New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) The entry of Air India on the Mumbai-Nairobi route has triggered intense competition on the popular route leading to a dip in airfares, bringing cheer for tourists flying to the African nation for a safari to Masai Mara and other leisure activities.
A return economy class ticket for the Mumbai-Nairobi sector is currently being sold by Air India for Rs 26,449 if booked a month in advance. Kenya Airways, the long-time operator on the route, is selling tickets for Rs 30,512 - Rs 32,459.
These fares were shown on the online travel aggregator MakeMyTrip. The tickets were booked for journey on the Mumbai-Nairobi route on February 12, 2020, while the return ticket was for February 14.
Travel industry experts said that the fare level has come down by 5-6 per cent this season following the launch of Air India flights on the route. In the peak travel season, the return fare on the route goes upto Rs 50,000 - Rs 60,000.
Besides Air India and Kenya Airways, which operate direct flights on the route, carriers like Ethiopian Airlines, Air Arabia and QatarAirways stop at their hubs before taking Indian passengers to Nairobi.
As air tickets account for nearly 40 per cent of a tourist's travel budget, the drop in airfares on the Mumbai-Nairobi route means significant savings for them.
"We have seen ticket prices on the route going up to Rs 50,000-60,000 during the peak travel season. The fare level following the launch of Air India flights has not dropped much. It is marginally lower by 5-6 per cent. Air India launched its flights after the peak migration season so the fares are anyways low," Anshul Sethi, Vice President and Head of Supplier Relations, Thomas Cook India Ltd.
Being right on the Equator, Kenya is the heart of African wildlife and people can go for safaris almost throughout the year. The June-October period is generally considered peak season for traffic on the India-Kenya route. Kenya also offers wonderful filming locations and the required support infrastructure.
The travel experts feel that lower airfare on the route would attract many more Indian tourists to explore Kenya.
"Launch of a couple of flights on the route by Air India has brought convenience for passengers as the airline has a huge domestic network and hence seamless connectivity. In case of Kenya Airways, everyone will have to first come to Mumbai and so domestic fare needs to be added," said Daniel D'souza, President and Country Head (Leisure), SOTC Travel.
Air India launched flights on the Mumbai-Nairobi route in November, 2019.
(Nirbhay Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)