Safarilink airline has told off Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o over allegations of “ripping off gullible passengers in a bid to collect obscene profits from gullible public” and issuing directive stopping county staff against using their service.
They termed as unfortunate the remarks by the county chief, blaming him of “being ungrateful” for failing to recognise the concessions they have made for him over the years.
“We, in turn, have supported the Kisumu County in various ways with various sponsorships towards various projects and you personally when we have held back flights when you were running late,” they said in their rejoinder.
Prof Nyong’o while issuing a complaint on Thursday against Safarilink protested what he termed as “excessively high flight charges” by the domestic airline.
“On 3rd February 2023, I was booked to fly to Kisumu from Wilson Airport in Nairobi on Safarilink airline’s 7am flight No. 081, ticket reference no 49141F.
“On the previous evening, I called my secretary to confirm the flight. She told me all was well except that Safarilink was asking for Sh19,000 for one-way flight from Nairobi to Kisumu. The usual charges have been between Sh5,500 and Sh7,000,” he said.
Since he had to travel for an urgent meeting in Kisumu, the governor said the county paid Sh19,000 but not before protesting to the managers of the airline.
Safarilink however defended themselves saying they have an obligation to their shareholders who expect some returns after having to navigate through a difficult three years during Covid with no concessions or support from the government.
“Private airlines have to contend with multiple taxes and levies such as VAT on fuel, railway development levy, expensive spare parts, VAT on engine overhauls and the sliding Kenya shillings,” they said in a statement.
On the same day, added Safarilink, other airlines who are beneficiaries of government support had higher fares, they said, raising concerns why Prof Nyong’o only had to cite Safarilink.
But the governor while calling on consumer protection organisations to reign noted as surprising that the airline is charging exorbitant prices.
Based on several factors, Safarilink clarified that that their airline fares from Nairobi to Kisumu are in the range from Sh5,500 to Sh19,000.
“The earlier one books the cheaper the fare. In this instance, you booked this flight directly from our website the evening before the flight and hence the fare was based on the last seat available,” said Safarilink statement.
Despite the airline committing to continue supporting Kisumu County with regular flights and welcome Governor Nyong’o on board, the county boss issued a directive to the staff against using Safarilink for any trip effective February 9, 2023.