Air France KLM, a leading airline group, has identified Africa as a strategic priority for its expansion plans. Recognizing the growing demand in the region, the company recently opened a new regional office in Nairobi, Kenya.
With increased capacity on its Nairobi-Europe flights and the introduction of new routes, Air France aims to tap into the vast potential of the African travel market highlighting the company’s commitment to providing enhanced connectivity and services to passengers across the continent.
Expanding Opportunities in Africa
Marius van der Ham, the regional manager for the East and Southern Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria region, expressed Air France KLM’s confidence in the African market. During the opening ceremony of the new regional office, he stated, “We believe there is more potential to be grabbed, especially here in Kenya.” The African region currently ranks as the fifth largest in Air France KLM’s network of 12 regional operations, following North America, Greater China, Korea, and Japan, Marius noted.
To meet the rising demand for travel, Air France KLM has already raised its capacity on Nairobi-Europe flights by 14% this year. Right now, the airline operates two daily flights from Nairobi to Amsterdam and Paris, compared to a single daily flight to Amsterdam and five weekly flights to Paris before the pandemic. Furthermore, the carrier has introduced three additional flights on its Paris-Johannesburg route to cater to the surge in summer travel.
In a bid to enhance connectivity, Air France KLM on June 12 also introduced new flights between Paris and Dar Es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International in neighboring as a continuation of the existing service to Zanzibar. Flights will be operated three times per week using Boeing 787-9 equipment.
Air France began serving Zanzibar in October 2021, flying twice a week via the Kenyan capital Nairobi. This routing ends once the Dar Es Salaam flights begin.
Zoran Jelkic, a senior vice president for long haul at Air France KLM, emphasized the strategic importance of Africa for the group. He stated, “Africa is really strategic for the group,” underscoring the company’s commitment to the continent.
While the African travel market presents significant growth opportunities, operating in the region is not without its challenges. Airline executives have identified shortages of hard currencies in some economies as one of the key obstacles. These currency limitations make it difficult for airlines to repatriate their earnings, affecting their financial operations.