1980s: A leap of faith

Two Uganda-based Gujarati Indian brothers settled in the UK when Idi Amin expelled the Indian population from Uganda in 1972. Despite the struggles of being refugees, the brothers were determined to rebuild their lives. Graduating from university with little money, they started Key Travel.

The plan? To focus on travel to Africa, a geography they knew well. The first customer was a missionary from the Methodist church, who then recommended them to fellow churchgoers who introduced them to other missionary contacts.

The brothers knew the airlines often had spare capacity on routes to Africa and so talked to them about giving missionaries flexibility they needed but which usually came with much higher-priced tickets. Missionaries could not afford the high fees on excess baggage, changes or cancellations and the requirement to stay a Saturday night to qualify for cheap return tickets was impractical: many had to be back at their parishes on Sundays to preach.

Having created a process of strict enforcement of eligibility criteria through a system of rules and checks, the brothers persuaded the airlines to launch their first ever missionary fares. Airlines saw the value not only from filling empty seats but also from being able to provide for charities.

As a consequence, Key Travel established itself as the first specialist travel agency for faith travellers. This was followed up by the Company developing the world's first ever Humanitarian fares for non-religiously based charities and NGOs.

1990s: Doing good

Our technological advancements skyrocket in line with our growth, and we celebrate opening our first regional office in Manchester, UK, in 1995.

Honouring our commitment to doing good in the world, we launch our Supporting Good Causes initiative in 1997, fundraising and donating to different charities every year.

2000s: Going green

We secure our first university contract and expand into Belgium.

When a tsunami devastates south-east Asia in December 2004, we work hand in hand with airlines to rescue survivors, donate supplies and send relief workers out to help.

We also win several awards, including for our environmental leadership, and design a new Traveller Wellbeing Suite to help employers protect their travellers.

2018 launched the first ever specialist academic air fare programme which we then reproduced across the airline sector globally.

2010s: Safe and steady

We kick off our 30th birthday year by navigating our customers safely through massive air traffic disruption caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.

We also branch out across Europe and Africa and open several offices in the USA. We are honoured to receive several awards, including Business Travel Agency of the Year.

Our unique new digital tools – KT: Online and KT: Insights – offer our customers new levels of control over their travel bookings, costs and reporting – including ground-breaking functionality that measures their carbon footprint and drives sustainable travel.

And our partnership with the charity Village by Village to build a health clinic in Ghana blossoms into longer-term fundraising to build new schools for the children of Obom village.

2020s: Simplicity through innovation

Our 40th anniversary year begins by weathering the COVID-19 global pandemic. We put all our efforts into helping our customers with repatriation, changing plans and resuming travel and create a COVID-19 information hub to provide our customers with a central source of travel news and advice.

Key Travel develops first ever portfolio of specialist fares for non-profit organiations with hotel providers with the launch of Do Good Rates with Expedia.

We develop the Key Travel Mobile App, giving travellers the ability to view all elements of their trip in one place, plus alerts in real-time to any alterations or delays that may impact a journey, and risk notifications enabling travellers to avoid last minute surprises and disruption.

We launch our brand new Global Travel Hub, providing 24/7 service (no additional fees) and become omni-channel, giving customers the choice of how they contact us (WhatsApp, SMS, Webchat, in addition to phone and email).

Our focus on innovation continues with the creation of our trademarked Tread Lighter Index ™ Audit (built in partnership with WWF-UK), the launch of the first UK Low-Cost Carrier Charity Fare and development of our in-house Duty of Care Readiness Audit.

Focus on sustainability continues with new exclusive products brought to market such as Carbon Neutral Hotel Rooms.

We become Carbon Neutral and receive 'Leader' rating in ESG (measured independently by Apex ESG).

We also win Business Travel Awards - European TMC of The Year and are named finalists in several travel industry awards across Europe and North America, recognising our travel sustainability efforts and initiatives.

Our partnership with the charity Village by Village continues with fundraising contributing to the build of a Primary School and Junior High School for the children of Obom village.