Kenya Airways To Resume Fifth Freedom Flight To China

It’s been announced today that Kenya Airways is planning to resume its fifth freedom flight to China in October. The service from Nairobi to Guangzhou via Bangkok is expected to commence from the week beginning October 25.

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Kenya Airways resumes its fifth freedom flights to China. Photo: Getty Images

Guangzhou is China’s most in-demand city for African traffic

As reported by on Tuesday, Kenya Airways is expected to resume services between Nairobi and Guangzhou, China, stopping over at Bangkok, Thailand. The service will enable travelers to take advantage of the carrier’s fifth freedom rights between Bangkok and Guangzhou.

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From October 25, the airline will be running its regular daily service operated by 234-seat Boeing 787-8s. Guangzhou is the most in-demand city in China for travelers to and from Africa and is known as the ‘African capital’ of the country.

With nearly 171,000 seats in 2019, Kenya Airways was Africa’s third-largest airline serving Guangzhou after Ethiopian Airlines with 348,000 seats to and from Addis Ababa, and EgyptAir with 247,000 to and from Cairo.

An estimated 138,545 passengers flew from Guangzhou and Bangkok with Kenya Airways last year, which is a seat load factor of 81%. Almost 49,000 travelers used the fifth freedom flights between the Chinese and Thai destinations.

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Fifth freedom flights can be useful. Photo: Getty Images

What are fifth freedom flights?

The nine freedoms of the air are a set of internationally accepted commercial aviation rights. Fifth freedom flights allow an airline to carry passengers between two countries, neither of which are the country where the carrier is based.

In the case of Kenya Airways service from Nairobi to Guangzhou, the leg between Bangkok and the Chinese city is a fifth freedom flight. Utilizing a short leg of a long-haul flight has its advantages.

The service will usually be operated by a widebody aircraft, giving you the comforts and facilities you don’t get on a short-haul flight in a smaller plane. You can often find a good deal on tickets, and you can experience an airline from a country you don’t usually travel with.

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Kenya takes to the international skies again. Photo: Getty Images

Kenya Airways is taking off again

Kenya Airways has built a solid reputation as one of Africa’s best-known airlines. The carrier has a devoted fan base that has supported it over the decades.

The Kenyan flag carrier ceased passenger flights in March, and it was mid-July before it resumed domestic passenger services. However, the airline said that it carried more than 10,000 tons of cargo during the COVID-19 pandemic to enable it to keep trade going. Along with many other airlines, Kenya Airways has prioritized cargo as a means to keep flying.

Guangzhou has been a long-standing destination for the airline. Capacity has remained relatively constant to the city compared to its other Asian destinations, which dropped by more than a quarter between 2015 and 2019. Those included Delhi, Hanoi, and Hong Kong, and the fall in passenger numbers took the airline’s seat sales back to the levels seen in 2011.

Between 2013 and 2015, Nairobi to Guangzhou was a non-stop service. From 2015 to 2017, it operated via Hanoi three times weekly and via Bangkok four days per week. It has since operated exclusively via Bangkok as it did before 2013.

Are you happy to see Kenya Airways resuming international flights?