In a recent statement by President Uhuru Kenyatta, it disclosed Kenya Airways (KQ) to resume international passenger services following the easing of movement restrictions as directed by the President. Today, the first international flights depart to the following international destinations; London, Dubai, Addis Ababa, Kigali, and Lusaka, it confirmed.
Accordingly, he said; during the month there will be a gradual increase in the network with flights to Paris, Mumbai and Amsterdam. In Africa, the airline will operate flights to Accra, Dzaoudzi, Freetown, Harare, Kilimanjaro, Lagos, Monrovia, Moroni, Nampula and Zanzibar. Based on demand and other factors, resumption of services to other destinations around the globe will occur.
The Airline plans to start operations to USA, China and Thailand from October 2020. These destinations require the bulk of the network to open up so as to sustain adequate traffic on the routes.
Speaking on easing, Allan Kilavuka, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Airways, said; “Since resuming domestic flights on 15th July 2020, we have been monitoring the adherence to the protocols that we have in place to ensure the health and safety of our customers and staff, and I am pleased that they are being enforced and followed strictly.”
“The resumption of our international flights is an important milestone for us. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to provide connections for our farmer’s produce to reach international markets, medical supplies to reach our people through our Cargo flights, as well as reuniting families through the repatriation flights we mounted with support from the Government of Kenya. We look forward to welcoming our guests on board from today onwards as we play our role in kick starting economies, not only for Kenya but also for those countries that we operate to,” he added.
Some of the safety measures the airline has put in place to ensure the safety of passengers include: the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) by the flight crew and airport workers where necessary, and limited interaction between crew and passengers. The airline is also providing sanitizer stations onboard and washing of hands will be encouraged by crew on board the flights.
All the aircrafts are fitted with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. The filters ensure that the quality of air on board is kept clean by constant filtration and replacement with air from outside the aircraft. They also trap particulates such as viruses and bacteria, and as the air flows primarily from the ceiling to the floor, it helps minimize particulates spreading throughout the cabin. The airline will continuously review the protocols in place and update where necessary to ensure the health and safety of all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and aviation industries, globally. According to IATA, demand for travel is forecast to fall by 58% in 2020, while passenger revenues will decline by over $6 billion compared to the previous year. Kenya’s tourism industry meanwhile has lost 80 billion shillings ($752 million) in revenue so far due to the crisis.
While it is not expected that these sectors will immediately return to business-as-usual as travel restrictions are still a reality, the resumption of international flights is an important step for Kenya towards bringing these sectors back to life.
Speaking also, the Kenya Airways Chairman of the Board, Michael Joseph, added; “The global economic and geopolitical context remains uncertain and it will take another 2-3 years to gain the confidence of travellers and begin the path to recovery for air travel demand. A number of industry watchers predict that it will be a few years before air travel returns to the 2019 levels.”
“However, the resumption of international flights from Nairobi to the world is a major step towards recovery, as it will enable local businesses to connect with global markets, contributing favourably to the Kenyan economy and towards the sustainable development of the continent,” Joseph noted.