Flowers farmers devastated with Kenya and Ethiopia fright war

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Flower farmers are being forced to throw away a quarter of their produce due to a drop in airline traffic in the wake of restrictions imposed on rival carriers to protect Kenya Airways.

Kenya Flower Council (KFC), the lobby for large-scale flower farms, says they need a freight capacity of at least 5,000 tonnes a week against the 3,500 tonnes available.

Kenya Airways has compounded the problem by resisting a plan to increase frequency for other airlines on the Nairobi route, having successfully lobbied the government to protect its turf at the expense of flower farmers.

Kenya has said it will not approve additional freighters from Ethiopia Airlines after Addis refused to allow KQ to fly cargo directly to Europe from Bole International Airport, forcing the national carrier to route through Nairobi.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said KQ has committed to increasing capacity and the government will approve any other carrier apart from Ethiopian Airlines to increase frequency from Nairobi to Europe.

The Ethiopian Airlines Group, Africa’s largest airline, has transported more than millions of stems of flowers for seasons from Ethiopia and Kenya to other destinations, according to corporate sources.