Brussels Airlines Reconnects With Kenya After Nine Years


Nairobi Welcomes Back Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines, Belgium’s flagship carrier and largest airline, has resumed flights to Nairobi, Kenya, as of the 4th of June 2024, after a nine-year hiatus. The airline, a member of the Lufthansa Group and Star Alliance, landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Monday night with 288 travelers, enhancing connectivity between Kenya and Belgium. This marks the airline’s first return to the Nairobi route since it last served it between 2002 and 2015.

During the reception of the airline, David Tanki, representing the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Board of Directors, highlighted the positive impact of Brussels Airlines’ return on Kenyan tourism. Tanki emphasized that the resumption of flights demonstrates the continued interest of Belgian and European travelers in Kenya as a destination known for its diverse and sustainable tourism offerings.

“The year-round service we shall now be receiving from Brussels Airlines 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.

Tanki expressed optimism about the future growth of Kenya’s tourism sector, noting that European travelers play a crucial role. “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 added.

Brussels Airlines’ return brings the number of the airline’s destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa to 18. Kenya is now the second-largest market by frequency, with 5 weekly flights by Lufthansa, 6 flights by Eurowings Discover to the coast, and 6 flights to Nairobi by Brussels Airlines. This service will boost passenger transfers for the diverse Belgian travel sector, including charter services, business travel, MICE specialists, online travel agencies, and retail travel agents.

Brussels Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Dorothea von Boxberg, noted the high interest from Belgian travelers in exploring Kenya. “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.

Von Boxberg added that the airline is working on ways to increase flight frequencies due to the rising demand for business and leisure travel, as well as positive market reactions.

Data from Statbel indicates that the third quarter of 2023 saw 6.92 million trips of Belgians abroad, a 3.8% increase 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. Preferences for overseas travel remain high, with 64% of Belgians likely to travel abroad for leisure in the next 12 months. Cost and affordability are crucial for 34% of Belgians when planning international trips. Belgian travelers also prioritize eco-friendly travel experiences, sustainable tourism practices, authenticity, environmental consciousness, and community engagement.

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