Emirates blocked from third daily Nairobi flight

Emirates Airline’s plans to operate a third daily rotation between its Dubai base and the Kenyan capital Nairobi have been suspended after the Kenyan authorities declined to approve the additional service.

The airline described the move as “surprising.”

Emirates had been planning to use a Boeing 777-300ER on the route in a three-class, 354-seat layout. When announcing plans for the new service Jan. 19, the Dubai-based carrier said it “underscores Emirates’ commitment to Kenya and confidence in the route, which has grown to become one of the airline’s busiest routes in Africa since it first launched services to the country in October 1995.”

However, the latest service was blocked. According to Kenyan media reports, the East African country is seeking a review of the bilateral air service agreement between the two countries to better balance the share of services operated by Emirates and the national carrier, Kenya Airways.

Kenya Airways has been struggling financially in recent years; more widely, several African nations are expressing concern at the amount of Africa-originating traffic being siphoned off by the Gulf “Big Three” carriers to their respective hubs.

The tightening airline market has also seen profits at carriers such as Emirates shrink in recent months.

“Emirates can confirm that approval granted to operate a third daily flight between Dubai and Nairobi has been withdrawn by the Kenyan transport authorities,” the airline said in a statement.

“The withdrawal of the already-granted approval by the Kenyan transport authorities is surprising, given that the valid air services agreement between the two countries allows Emirates to operate flights to Nairobi without any restriction. We will engage with the Kenyan authorities to address any concerns so that our third daily flight can be launched as planned. This does not affect Emirates’ two other daily flights between Dubai and Nairobi, which are operating as scheduled,” Emirates said.

Originally Published on Air Transport World.