Holiday travel boosts travel firms earnings

Road, air and rail passenger transport operators are enjoying good fortunes with growing bookings as the festive season kicks in.

The Standard Gauge Railway and most scheduled bus operators have reported full bookings until January.

“If you plan to use the Standard Gauge Railway and you have not yet booked a ticket, well you will wait until mid January to ride the train,” said a corporate communication official at the railway firm.

The transporter has put out an extra five coaches on each route for economy travellers to cope with the huge numbers.

Those using passenger vehicles that need no early booking are braving long queues.

A spot check at Tea Room in Nairobi’s downtown showed many travellers are already heading upcountry, though one of the operators said it was still too early to conclude.

“We expect brisk business by midday. This is a busy route as people start going home for the end of year festivities,” said Solo Kirimi, a matatu driver plying the Nairobi-Nyeri route.

He said fares will not be hiked as the government has cautioned matatu operators against raising fares haphazardly.

National Transport and Safety Authority director general Francis Meja has cautioned that matatu operators risk having their licences revoked if the authority receives reports on fare hikes.

At Easy Coach offices, most routes to Western Kenya are already fully booked until the end of the year. The firm has however not raised its fares.

“Both the Homa Bay and Migori routes are fully booked for two weeks straight till after Christmas,” said Fred Gori, who could not get a direct ticket to travel from Nairobi to Migori a week before Christmas.

MD Azym Dossa said most routes are fully booked from Friday.

“We have never increased our bus fares for the past four years, and we do not plan to do so even if we will incur the costs of high fuel, and issues such as buses travelling back to Nairobi empty,” he said.

The company operates a fleet of about 40 buses, covering western Nyanza and parts of the Rift Valley regions.

Flights to Kisumu and Mombasa have experienced higher than normal activity. Ticket prices however remain constant.

Attempts to book a ticket on Silverstone Air to Kisumu proved difficult.

The booking attendant said there were a few seats on the Sunday, at Sh8,600 up from the normal Sh6,000 one way.

Kenya Airways flies four times daily on the Kisumu route with tickets going for Sh11,715 return. The national carrier flies nine times daily on the Mombasa route as well.

“To travel between Mombasa and Nairobi on specific dates 20th -21st December and Nairobi to Mombasa from 1st to 3rd January 2019, we have special one way fares from Sh5,500,” KQ said.


Author: Alexxie

Alex is a Kenyan blogger writing on technology, fraud, social media and politics.

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