Budget carrier Jambojet has resumed flights to Lamu after a four-year hiatus, which it blamed insecurity and the poor state of Manda Airport.
The airline, a subsidiary of Kenya Airways, will now fly the 78-capacity Dash 8-Q400 aircraft four times a week through Mombasa starting September 15.
Passengers heading to Lamu from Nairobi will pay Sh7,100 on a one-way ticket, while those from Mombasa to Lamu pay Sh4,600.
This is the fourth coastal route for Jambojet, which operates flights on Mombasa, Malindi and Ukunda routes from its hub at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.
The return of Jambojet to the coastal town steps up competition for other low-cost carriers on the route, such as Fly540 and Safarilink.
The airline suspended flights to Lamu in 2017, citing insecurity in the tourism archipelago and the bad shape of the Manda runway that made it difficult for its large aircraft to land and take-off.
Lamu is popular with tourists because of its cultural heritage, rich marine and wildlife.
“It’s been four years not flying to Lamu, and because of the weak Cabro, we were not able to pack the planes. Security has also improved over the years. We look to introduce a direct flight from Nairobi to Lamu,” said Karanja Ndegwa, Jambojet managing director.
The airline is also targeting investors visiting the island following the ongoing construction of the Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor.
Last week, Jambojet launched direct flights to Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as part of regional expansion efforts.
“We shall connect the coastal routes to the international countries,” Mr Ndegwa added. Upgrade The modernisation of Manda Airport, the largest in the county of Lamu, began early this year.The upgrade involves civil works on the apron and the expansion of the runway from two kilometres to 2.4km.Works on the packing area are expected to be complete by the end of November ahead of the tourism peak season.