Aviation sector breathes sigh of relief as State lifts ban on flights

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Kenya Airways plane.

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

Kenya’s aviation sector heaved a sigh of relief yesterday after President Uhuru Kenyatta gave it the green light to resume local and international flights on July 15 and August , respectively. 

Making his 9th national address on the coronavirus situation, President Kenyatta said he had lifted the ban on air travel on condition that operators follow strict guidelines and protocols from the ministries of Health and Transport.

“Local Air Travel within the territory of the Republic of Kenya shall resume effective Wednesday, 15 July in strict conformity with applicable guidelines and protocols,” he said.

That international air travel shall resume effective August 1 in strict conformity with all protocols from the Ministry of Health, local and international civil aviation authorities and any additional requirements applicable at the points of departure, arrival or transit.

This will see the resumption of international flights which had stopped as the country cushioned Kenyans from the dangers of getting infections from other countries.

The move by President Kenyatta has come at a time when the troubled national carrier Kenya Airways has embarked on a three-month retrenchment exercise targeting 182 pilots and some 400 crew members.

Termination letters

About 22 pilots have already received their termination letters even as the government mulls over nationalization of the loss-making airline which is currently managed by the Aviation Investment Corporation.

KAA Managing Director Alex Gitari said the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated things for KQ as it is popularly known after years of loss making.

Grounding of local flights also dealt a blow to the ailing tourism sector which is now expected from the lifting of the ban.

“The use of protective gear will be strongly enforced,” he said.

Speaking after making an inspection tour of JKIA to ascertain safety measures put in place last week, Transport cabinet secretary James Macharia expressed optimism that flight services will resume “unhindered” once the ban is lifted.

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