The Kenyan aviation regulator has granted Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways permission to fly cargo directly from Nairobi without making stop-overs at their home bases, coming as a major relief to flower farmers ahead of Valentine's Day period.
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe said they have approved 20 flights for the Ethiopian carrier and five for Qatar Airways.
The Ministry of Transport had last week asked freighters if they objected to the two airlines being granted permits. None objected, paving the way for the approval of their requests.
Mr Kibe said the extra direct frequencies, normally referred to as ad-hoc flights in aviation, will run from the end of January to mid of this month.
“Ethiopian and Qatar have been granted extra Ad-hoc cargo flights to meet Valentine’s Day demand,” said Mr Kibe.
The move will mostly benefit flower farmers who had requested more capacity at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to evacuate more produce during the peak season.
Astral Aviation, the only local airline operating cargo flights in the country said they have increased their flights from JKIA to Europe by six between Valentines and Mothers’ Day to cater for increased freight demand.
“We have ramped up our capacity to ensure that we meet the capacity needs at the JKIA with three flights on Valentines and three others during Mother’s Day,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, chief executive officer of Astral Aviation.