Virgin Atlantic Finally Exits Kenyan Market

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, a company majorly-owned by British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, has officially dissolved its aviation business in Kenya six years after it launched its Nairobi-London route, Ventures Africa reported.

A gazette notice published on Friday confirmed the airline’s Kenyan subsidiary had dissolved its business in adherence to the Companies Act.

Virgin Atlantic had seized direct flights between Nairobi and London in September last year due to what it termed as low passenger numbers, poor timing slot that did not bring in much needed passenger traffic, high fuel costs and increasing aviation taxes in Britain.

Between the launch of the Nairobi-London route in 2007 and 2012, fuel prices had risen by an estimated 50 per cent thereby incredibly inflating its cost of operations for many airlines globally. Correspondingly, the Air Passenger Duty charged in Britain had also increased by over 100 per cent, Virgin Atlantic said.

“These are still challenging times for the airline industry and we have to deploy our aircraft to routes with the right level of demand to be financially viable,” Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, Julie Southern told Venturse Africa.

However, the airline says it will return if market conditions change.

Sir Richard Branson’s company, however, continues to invest in the Kenyan market. He recently launched the Maasai Mara, a luxury hotel dubbed Mahali Mzuri Safari Camp, whose rates start from $590 per person per night.