Nairobi, Kenya (eTN) – Kenya Airways (KQ) has temporarily suspended flights to some of its West African destinations from its Nairobi hub following a strike by ASECNA, the trade union of air traffic controllers in Francophone Africa. The destinations affected are Comoros & Mayotte, Abidjan, Bamako and Dakar— the Indian Ocean Islands to Franco-phone West Africa route.

ASECNA (Agence pour la Securite de la Navigation Aerienne en Afrique et Madagascar), which covers 25 international airports in Francophone West and Central Africa called on the strike on July 29, 2008 to demand better pay and working conditions.

In a statement issued from Nairobi, KQ CEO Mr Titus Naikuni said, “We are monitoring the situation as it develops and we are hopeful that an amicable solution will be reached soon.”

The airline has over the years maintained a firm focuses on promoting air travel within Africa where it flies to over 30-African destinations.

The suspension will be a major disappointment for West African passengers who rely mainly on Kenya Airways (KQ) and Ethiopian Airlines for connections to Eastern Africa, Middle East, India and the Far East.

Last month, KQ increased scheduled flights on a number of its African, Middle and Far East destinations to offer the carrier’s passengers greater flexible timings in their travel plans. Announcing the changes, the airline’s commercial director, Mr. Richard Nuttall said that the changes will mainly affect China, Dubai, Lusaka, Accra and the Lagos destinations.

KQ has introduced the option of daytime departures for its Bombay bound passengers who are now able to fly out during the day on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 0800hr. The traditional nighttime departures still apply for Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. According to the airline, this move is bound to benefit its passengers from Monrovia and Free Town.

The new schedule also provides double daily flights on both the Dubai and Lusaka routes, a service that was previously only offered by KQ between Nairobi and Johannesburg.” All these changes will take effect beginning July 2008 and aim to provide flexible options to our passengers,” said Nuttall.

The Lusaka route for instance is now offering a full business day said Nuttall, “For example you can leave Nairobi at 0810 on Monday, work the whole day and return back overnight arriving in Nairobi on Tuesday at 0615hours.”

China has received the lion’s share of the new flights. The destination now has six scheduled weekly flights, up from four. Four of the flights will connect China through Dubai, while the additional two will fly via Bangkok. Hong Kong grows from three weekly flights to four, all via Bangkok. Total flights to Bangkok increase to six from the previous three.

Passengers traveling to China via Bangkok will leave JKIA on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They will leave the JKIA at 2200 hours with a one hour ten minute stoppage at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. They will arrive at the Baiyun Airport in Guangzhou, China at 1645 hours local time on Wednesdays and Fridays. The return flight will leave Guangzhou through Bangkok and arrive at JKIA at 0615 hours on Wednesdays and Fridays.

In addition to Lusaka, KQ will now fly seven times to both Accra and Lagos, up from the previous six a week, because of an extra flight that has been added on each of the routes.

Consequently, KQ flight 508 will leave JKIA for Accra on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 0805 hours to arrive in Accra at 1045 hours local time and then proceed on to Monrovia. Similarly, KQ flight 510 now leaves JKIA for Accra on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays at 0805 hours to arrive in Accra at 1045 hours then proceed on to Freetown. The return flights will arrive at JKIA the following morning at 0600 hours and 0610 hours respectively.

The Wednesday and Friday Lagos flights now depart JKIA at 0715 hours to arrive Murtala Muhammad International Airport in Lagos at 1015 hours. They will be expected at JKIA on the same days at 1830 hours local time. The evening flights will leave JKIA on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1915 hours and arrive in Lagos at 2215 hours local time. They will arrive back in JKIA on the subsequent mornings at 0630 hours.

The airline is encouraging its passengers to get more details on this new schedule from their travel agents, KQ sales offices and from the company’s website