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Its time for Africa: Indigo’s nonstop flights from Mumbai to Nairobi to begin in August 2023

IndiGo, India’s largest airline with more than 1800 flights a day and a fleet of more than 300 aircraft, has announced that it will begin nonstop flights between Mumbai and Nairobi in August 2023. This marks the airline’s entry in Africa.

IndiGo’s African entry

Starting 5th August 2023, IndiGo will operate a daily flight between Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport and Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with the following schedule:

  • Mumbai-Nairobi
  • Departure time: 02:10 (06:10 for the inaugural flight on 5th August 2023)
  • Arrival time: 05:40 (09:40 for the inaugural flight in 5th August 2023)
  • Flight time: 6 hours
  • Flight number: 6E1853
  • Frequency: Daily
  • Nairobi-Mumbai
  • Departure time: 06:40 (10:40 for the inaugural flight on 5th August 2023)
  • Arrival time: 15:25 (19:25 for the inaugural flight in 5th August 2023)
  • Flight time: 6 hours and 15 minutes
  • Flight number: 6E1854
  • Frequency: Daily

Flights will be operated by Airbus A320neo featuring standard Economy Class seats. Interestingly, the airline has opted to operate these flights with A320neo instead of the larger A321neo, probably to wait for the market to build up and then switch to a larger aircraft.

We are delighted to announce the launch of direct flights between Mumbai and Nairobi, a significant step towards strengthening the bilateral ties between India and Kenya. With India emerging as Kenya’s third- largest trading partner and witnessing increased investments, this new air route will further enhance our economic ties too. Kenya is our first destination country in Sub-Saharan Africa and encompasses Savannah, Lakelands, as well as mountain highlands. From Nairobi, the capital, safaris can visit the Maasai Mara as well multiple other National Parks & Wildlife Reserves, opening numerous options for tourists. With our expanding network, we remain committed to fulfilling our promise of delivering on- time, affordable, courteous, and hassle-free travel experiences to our valued customers.

said Vinay Malhotra, Head of Global Sales, IndiGo.

Nairobi is the airline’s 27th international destination and 105th destination overall. The airline says that the “enhanced accessibility will benefit business travellers and boost tourism, cultural exchanges, and collaboration in various fields”. IndiGo adds that this “marks an important milestone in the India-Kenya relationship and demonstrates the shared commitment to fostering mutually beneficial partnerships for growth and development”.

Nairobi, the vibrant gateway to Africa’s magnificent safaris, captivates visitors with its blend of contemporary allure and rich heritage. It offers an exhilarating journey where wildlife encounters and pulsating nightlife take center stage. Travellers can explore iconic attractions such as the Karen Blixen Museum, where the echoes of Africa’s past come alive, or have up-close encounters with graceful giraffes at the Giraffe Centre. The expansive Nairobi National Park is home to majestic black rhinos freely roaming in their natural habitat.

Nature enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the lush enchantment of Karura Forest or conquer the breathtaking Ngong Hills. The vibrant energy of Village Market beckons with its lively ambience. For an ultimate safari experience, adventurers can venture to the awe-inspiring Samburu National Park, where untamed wilderness and awe-inspiring landscapes await discovery. Nairobi promises a multitude of thrilling escapades and unforgettable moments at every turn.

MagicalKenya is delighted with IndiGo’s launch of direct flights from Mumbai to Nairobi, Kenya, starting in August 2023. This represents a significant milestone in our efforts to increase the number of visitors from India, which is the leading market in Asia. This direct access to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city and a regional hub for business and travel, will provide leisure tourists, business visitors, and investors with a seamless connection to the destination, in addition to our national carrier, Kenya Airways. We have formed a collaborative effort aimed at enhancing Kenya’s status as the ultimate travel destination for Indian tourists seeking diverse experiences such as wildlife safaris, beach getaways, culinary delights, thrilling adventures, productive business meetings, and memorable occasions like weddings and honeymoons. Through our joint marketing and sales campaigns, we strive to solidify Kenya’s appeal and attract more Indian travelers to explore its wonders.

said John Chirchir, A.g. CEO, Kenya Tourism Board.

What to make of this?

IndiGo has always been good at identifying potential destinations, to the extent that it has not stopped service to any of its existing destinations till date (Jabalpur services were stopped briefly but are now back).

Nairobi is a natural choice for any airline from India to step its foot in Africa, as its one of the most diverse markets, with good business and tourism traffic, along with a substantial Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) traffic.

Unlike Vistara which has opted for a more touristy market in the form of Mauritius for its Africa entry, IndiGo has gone for a more standard approach and it’s good. Mumbai-Nairobi is a tried and tested market, with Kenya Airways operating double daily flights on the route. This is yet another market where a foreign airline was operating but a Indian one was not. Although Air India operates flights to Nairobi, it does so from Delhi and not Mumbai.

IndiGo is an airline which has gone from strength to strength and shown airlines around the world how to run an airline in a tough market like the one in India. With little scope for new destinations in India, the airline is now focusing on expanding its international presence. The low-cost carrier recently announced six new international destinations, of which Nairobi is one.

From the passenger aspect, those looking from a price-point-of-view would have to look no further (although I have seen IndiGo charge more than full service carriers on some routes). But my only concern for IndiGo going forward is the passenger experience on flights this long.

Till now, IndiGo has not evolved that much, given that the need has not arisen. But since IndiGo is now giving importance to international expansion, it has to evolve. Other than on flights to Istanbul, the airline does not provide hot meals as its A320 family aircraft are not equipped with ovens. It does not have any kind of streaming entertainment available. It does not have charging ports available. Nothing.

Though it is a low-cost carrier, passengers on long flights will expect some basic amenities from IndiGo. It can be on a chargeable basis but these should be present. In my opinion, IndiGo should work on enhancing the passenger experience on long flights on a priority basis.

Featured image by The Statesman

What do you think of IndiGo starting flights to Nairobi? Let me know in the comments section below.

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