Gov’t mulls resuming passenger service operations as KAA convenes meeting


Gov't mulls resuming passenger service operations as KAA convenes meeting
KQ 2764 that delivered medical goods and essential items to Johannesburg on April 12, 2020. PHOTO | COURTESY | Kenya Airways

The government is likely to allow airline companies to resume passenger service operations.

A phased out plan indicates that the domestic passenger flights could be back in the air as early as next week under stringent health standards.

The local aviation industry shut its doors in March when the government introduced cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi and the coastal strip counties of Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi.

This followed an earlier order that banned international flights into the country save for cargo freighters but two months later, the government seems to be putting up measures for resumption of passenger air services

In a letter to its stakeholders, the Kenya Airports Authority has invited them for a virtual meeting Wednesday to discuss among other things resumption of passenger flights.

Those expected to attend including government agencies, contractors, suppliers, service providers and concessionaires…

Sources tell Citizen TV that there are heightened activities at the airport in readiness of resumption of flights.

According to the source familiar with the on goings, KAA contractors are marking the international airport in respect to social distancing as well as placing hand sanitizing points.

Sources further say KAA will be meeting the stakeholders to brief them on plans that could be up and flying as soon as next week on domestic routes.

However, other stringent conditions will be formulated for international arrivals including Covid-19 tests by travellers, two weeks before departure and production of a Covid-19 negative certificate at the port of entry a measure that most countries have now adopted.

The meeting comes only a day after the tourism industry players met CS Najib Balala and formed two committees to formulate hotel industry healthy safety guidelines ahead of re-opening of the industry.

“We will set a committee that will provide a way forward for the industry in regards to the reopening of hotels and resorts,” Tourism CS Najib Balala said.

Globally, the aviation industry has taken a major hit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Locally, the national carrier Kenya Airways has asked the national treasury for a Ksh. 7billion emergency bailout due to the pandemic.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry stand to lose $113 billion in sales if the coronavirus continues to spread.

It has however indicated that Screening, face coverings and masks are among the many layers of measures it is recommending for flight resumption.

It did not however approve of the now contentious physical distancing measures that would leave the middle seat empty in a row of three.

IATA in a report said that evidence so far — which it admitted was limited — suggested the risk of virus transmission on a plane was already low.

However the government now wants to gradually open the skies to avert further losses.

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Story By Faizal Ahmed
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