By Prof. Wolfgang H. Thome, Ph.D., ETN Africa Correspondent
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, while addressing the UN Summit in New York earlier in the week, blamed the suspension of flights by Kenya Airways on what he called a ‘stark warning from the WHO [World Health Organization],’ laying the blame on the door of the World Health Organization for the mixed signals sent out at the time and the in part contradicting statements made by senior officials.
With Gulf airlines and main African rival Ethiopian Airlines continuing to serve the Ebola-affected West African countries, Kenya Airways has foregone major revenue, leaving the traffic to competitors which were not as scrupulous, nor had come under the sort of public pressure which was applied on Kenya Airways’ management by a social media campaign at the time in a raging storm of hysteria.
The presidential statement then went on to say that there never was an intention to harm the affected countries and their economies by cutting flight links and that ‘once appropriate measures had been put into place’ flights would resume.
It is understood that Kenya Airways is presently studying the options to restore flights while at the same time ensuring that the virus cannot spread into Kenya or beyond, something which thankfully has not happened with any of the traffic uplifted by other airlines since Kenya Airways had pulled out of Monrovia and Conakry.
The announcement, however, is also expected to once again bring out the sentiments of Twitter and Facebook users who will no doubt already overnight start to voice their opinions, and it remains to be seen if common sense prevails or if fearful hysteria once again carries the day.
The WHO has repeatedly stated that only individuals who show signs of suffering from Ebola can pass on the virus ,and checks at the airports across West Africa are now in place to monitor and check passengers for exactly such visible symptoms.