Budget airline Jambojet has launched flights to Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as it seeks expansion in the vast central African country.
Jambojet, a subsidiary of the national carrier Kenya Airways, made the inaugural flight on Friday, becoming the first airline to directly connect the capital of North Kivu province and Nairobi.
It will be flying twice a week to Goma from its hub at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. The company’s officials said the frequency could rise to four per week if traffic permits. The flight takes two hours one way.
“We are excited about the growth prospects in the region. We have an ambitious plan to develop our network, and we are proud to be the first low-cost airline to venture down this route,” said Karanja Ndegwa, Jambojet managing director in his speech on the occasion.
Kenya’s Ambassador to Kinshasa George Masafu was among the dignitaries who welcomed the inaugural Jambojet flight on Friday, alongside senior government officials in Goma.
Jambojet wants to increase its fleet and link Nairobi to other cities in the DRC, but the choice of Goma as the first city is justified by the economic and tourist opportunities that North Kivu has.
Goma is also the nearest point of interest for Kenya which has recently entered MoUs with the government in Kinshasa to increase cooperation. The DRC is also awaiting admission to the East African Community, something which could make Goma an important city for the region.
“The DRC is a growing regional economy and several Kenyan companies have already established operations in this region. For example, two of Kenya’s largest commercial banks, Equity #ticker:EQTY and KCB ticker:KCB. And with that comes the demand for travel between the two countries, as more and more professionals and investors come to the DRC. I should also mention that Goma is a major and untapped tourist destination, with magnificent views of Lake Kivu, one of the iconic parks in the world, the Virunga National Park, to name a few, ” Mr Ndegwa said.
The DRC was represented at the ceremony by the police vice-governor of North Kivu and the divisional commissioner Romy Ekuka among other officials.
The price of the round trip Nairobi-Goma is set at $397 (Sh43,670) on an initial promotional offer.
A one-way flight will initially cost $190 (Sh20,900) from Goma but $207 (Sh22,770) from Nairobi. *Exchange rate $1 = Ksh110