China Southern Airlines Co. introduced flights to Kenya to tap an expected 15 percent increase in travelers to the East African nation, Chairman Si Xianmin said.

The Guangzhou, China-based carrier carrier is planning 20 flights per week in a code share with Kenya Airways Ltd., Si said in an interview Wednesday in the capital, Nairobi. The number of air travelers between China and Kenya was about 120,000 last year, he said.

“We expect growth in the number of travelers for this route to be around 15 percent annually starting in 2015,” Si said. “Traffic has been very strong, supporting the need for an air corridor between the two countries. We are very optimistic about the potential of this route.”

China is among markets that Kenya is targeting to boost tourism, the biggest generator of foreign-exchange after tea exports. The industry has suffered after a series of attacks by Islamist militants scared off visitors. The number of tourists to the country dropped 19 percent in the first half of this year to 347,398.

China Southern’s Nairobi-Guangzhou route is its second in Africa after Mauritius. The flights will boost the number of Chinese tourists to Kenya and the entire East African region, Si said.

“We could further promote what Kenya and the rest of Africa has to offer in tourism to Chinese travelers,” he said. “No Chinese airliner has served this market yet.”

China Airlines’ inaugural flight landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Wednesday. The carrier is considering other routes on the continent, including South Africa, Si said.


This article was written by Felix Njini from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Tags: kenya
Photo Credit: A China Southern Airlines plane in Toulouse, France. Reuters