Africa: President Kenyatta orders suspension of domestic flights over surge in COVID cases as Kenya Airways others halt aviation operation

kenya Kenyatta

East African carrier, Kenya Airways has suspended its domestic flight operations to comply with President Uhuru Kenyatta directive in order curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

According to ch-aviation.com, Kenyan airlines, including Kenya Airways its low-cost subsidiary Jambojet and Skyward Express have suspended domestic flights until further notice.

Kenya Airways, according to a tweeted statement, halted domestic flights between Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta and Mombasa, and Nairobi and Kisumu, from 1200L (0900Z) on March 29, 2021. International flights remained unaffected, but passengers were required to present negative COVID-19 tests.

President Kenyatta on March 26 announced travel restrictions by road, rail, and air in and out of the capital and four surrounding counties – Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu, and Nakuru – to slow surging COVID-19 infections. The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority on March 27 announced all domestic flights would be suspended from noon on March 29.

Jambojet, in a statement, confirmed it had suspended operations from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Malindi, and Diani at noon on March 29 until further notice. It advised passengers that their flights would be rescheduled to a later date at no extra cost.

Low-fare airline Fly540 which also operates domestically out of Jomo Kenyatta, made no announcement. Chief Executive Officer Don Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Skyward Express announced it was suspending flights on all its domestic flights out of Nairobi Wilson from noon on March 29.

Safarilink Aviation which also operates out of Wilson, in a statement said it was able to continue domestic flights for international tourists, but all international arrivals would have to adhere to strict COVID-19 protocols including having to present a COVID-19 certificate acquired no more than 96 hours prior to arrival in Kenya. The airline said it would honour all existing bookings by international tourists and welcomed any new bookings.

Kenya’s COVID-19 infections jumped from 2% to 22% between January and March, with Nairobi accounting for nearly 60% of all cases. Hospital admissions increased by 52% in the past two weeks with seven deaths recorded daily.

Other new measures include a longer nightly curfew, an alcohol ban, the suspension of face-to-face teaching after schools only reopened in January after having been closed for 10 months, and a ban on sporting events.

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