Airlines flying to and from Entebbe are now fighting for literally every passenger they can get before business starts picking up again towards the Easter vacation.ss
With the shopping festival in full swing in Dubai, many are heading from East Africa to Dubai to snap up bargains, at least those who have prudently managed their financial resources. From Uganda there are now many choices of how to get to what has often been described as Africa’s largest supermarket, aka Dubai, the place of mega malls galore with yet more of them found of course in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Uganda’s adopted home airline, RwandAir, is offering specials to Dubai when flying via Kigali, not a big detour considering the ride on one of their modern jets takes just 30 minutes but there is more in the market right now.
Emirates of course offers value added packages, hotels and extra baggage allowance included, as does Qatar Airways which flies via Doha. But the arguably best deal at present comes from flydubai which has put an offer out for their business class – yes, inspite of being a low cost carrier flydubai does actually offer a state of the art business class – with return fares from Entebbe going for as low as US Dollars 799.
‘The cost of air travel is coming down right now. One major reason of course is the falling price for aviation fuel which has literally wiped out the fuel surcharges. But the other issue is competition. More flights, more choices and during the low season a hard fight to fill those seats. It will get even better for Ugandans when in May Etihad will start flights from Abu Dhabi. Sparks will be flying between the Gulf carriers all aiming for the same market segment. Our own regional airlines like KQ and ET will have a heck of a fight at hand to out price the Gulf boys. Service will be an issue and one of those two, we all know that, have a service which sucks while the other has good service but could face limits on how low they can peg fares to stay in the market. For now the fares are pocket friendly and flying business at less than 800 Dollars to Dubai is a great bargain’ commented one of Kampala’s leading travel agents.
Time to travel, time to fly no doubt and many expatriates and Ugandans will take advantage of such deals and visit the UAE. Contrary to assurances that by mid February the interstate pass travel for expats across the CoW countries would be in place, this has again not happened, leaving Visa charges in place. This is one factor why, apart from the lack of nonstop flights from Entebbe to Mombasa, that destination is still not on top of the rankings for short holidays.
Said another travel agent when asked to comment: ‘As long as a family of four pays 200 Dollars for entry into Kenya, and gets hassled at JKIA, many rather fly to Dubai. These offers, ultimately, may see them spend more money but they spend it on what they want to spend it on. Cheap business class seats not much more expensive than a return trip to Mombasa, shopping opportunities and generous baggage allowances are big incentives. East Africa must wake up and face their own demons first and remove obstacles of travel before that big pool of expats can be fully exploited’.
Fodder for thought no doubt for the powers that be in the regional tourism industry who have way to go to have their respective bureaucrats lift non-tariff barriers and implement what their Heads of State directed them to do way back on the 11th of December at their Nairobi summit.