South African Airways (SAA), the leading carrier on the African continent, celebrates 25 years of flying to Nairobi, the airline’s first East African destination.
SAA was the first African airline to operate between Johannesburg and Kenya when it introduced two weekly flights between Johannesburg and Nairobi in 1991. Kenya was also the airline’s first East African operation.
From modest beginnings SAA’s Kenyan operations have grown steadily through the years. Today the airline operates 11 flights per week between Johannesburg and Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya and the largest city in East Africa, also popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun”.
Nairobi is surrounded by several expanding villa suburbs and is famous across the world for the Nairobi National Park, the world’s only game reserve found within a major city, host to a wide variety of wildlife.
“From South Africa most of our customers travel for business, with some travelling to Kenya to experience the world renowned Masai Mara migration of wildlife and the beautiful sun drenched white sand beaches. Kenyans travel to South Africa not only for business, but for leisure as well as to visit friends and relatives. Many Kenyan parents are sending their children to study in South Africa,” says Jane Ngaira, SAA country manager in Kenya.
The route is operated by SAA’s new A320 aircraft with capacity for 24 seats in business class and 114 in economy class. The A320 is one of the latest aircraft in the SAA fleet and it offers comfort and ample legroom. Recently SAA introduced the innovative offering of Samsung tablets on board as a way of improving in-flight entertainment to business class customers within the region. Nairobi was among the first destinations to enjoy this service.
Tourism initiatives by SAA and SA Tourism have positioned South Africa as one of the top holiday destinations for Kenyans, with over 15,000 Kenyans visiting South Africa annually. South African companies are well represented in Kenya in the banking, insurance, pharmaceutical and engineering sectors.
“The Johannesburg to Nairobi route is key to SAA’s network in East Africa due to its profitable contribution to the total network and its importance in connecting Kenya to the USA, South America and Southern Africa,” says Austin Nyawara, SAA Regional Manager East Africa and the Middle East.