Kenya Suspends International Flights ‘Until Further Notice’

International tourist arrivals fell by 72% in January-October 2020, with restrictions on travel, low consumer confidence and a global struggle to contain the COVID-19 virus, all contributing to the worst year for tourism on record.

Kenya has suspended all international flights with effect from Wednesday, March 25th, with the exception of cargo flights to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The Health Cabinet Secretary said persons coming into the country between now and Wednesday will undergo mandatory quarantine at a government-designated facility at their own expense.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Sunday announced additional measures to contain the virus after eight more coronavirus cases had been confirmed, bringing the total to 15. The new cases involved five Kenyans, two French nationals and a Mexican.

“Those coming into the country between now and Wednesday will undergo mandatory quarantine at a government-designated facility at their own expense,” said the CS.

“Kenyans who are currently in foreign countries, and will not have come back within the period are advised to observe the guidelines issued in the respective countries wherever they are,” he said.

Kenya Airways To Suspend All Flights 

Kenya Airways, the national carrier said it will temporarily suspend all international services effective midnight March 25.

Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka said, “Customers affected by the suspension will be able to change their bookings for later travel or exchange their booking for vouchers for future travel within 12 months.” 

“We have been forced to reduce our network by over 70% and it had become increasingly difficult to continue offering international passenger services.”

“We will continue to operate cargo flights, particularly so that we are available to offer emergency services or much-needed supplies. In the meantime, our domestic flights to Mombasa and Kisumu remain operational,” said Kilavuka.

The airline has already announced cost-cutting measures to counter the impact of fewer flights commencing next month.

In a memo, Kilavuka said he will be taking an 80% pay cut which will be reviewed on a monthly basis, while that of the senior management including board members will have their salaries reduced by 75%.

“Our passenger numbers are also reducing exponentially and have greatly impacted our revenues,” said Kilavuka.

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In East Africa, Rwanda has suspended all arriving and departing commercial passenger flights for 30 days, but it will not affect cargo and emergency flights.  

Uganda Airlines, a state-owned enterprise, on Sunday also announced the suspension of all its flights following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country effective starting March 23.

“This is in the interest of ensuring the safety of our customers, staff and public, compliance with the rapidly evolving travel restrictions and various national and international obligations in the global fight against COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

Kenya Airways’s budget airline Jambojet suspended all its scheduled flights to and from Kigali and Entebbe in Uganda, citing a sharp decline in the number of travellers.