Nairobi-based Kenya Airways has announced that it will resume flights from Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) to London Heathrow (LHR) on Saturday, June 26, 2021. All flights between Kenya and the United Kingdom were suspended on April 9, 2021. after the British government put Kenya on its “red list” of countries.
Based on the COVID-19 infection rate, counties are listed as either green (no restrictions), yellow (some restrictions), or red (mandatory ten-day quarantine). Individuals returning to the UK from red countries must be quarantined at a government-approved hotel for at least ten days at their own expense. The price to stay at the hotel is £ 1,750 ($ 2,417) per adult and during that time they are required to take two COVID-19 PCR tests that come back negative.
The Kenyan government responded
After news that Kenya had been placed on the UK Red List, the Kenyan government retaliated by banning flights from the UK to the East African nation. In doing so, the Kenyan government has put another nail in Kenya Airways’ coffin, causing an annual loss of $ 330 million.
At the beginning of June, the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) extended the ban a second time until August 24, 2021. Fearing that the summer tourist season would be impaired, the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday that flights between Kenya and Great Britain had the green light for resumption.
The high season for tourists visiting Kenya is the dry season between July and September. This is when the world famous wildebeest and zebra migration through the Masai Mara Game Reserve takes place.
Kenya needs tourism
Kenyan business news website Business Daily cites a letter from the department to the UK High Commission which said:
“The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya compliments the UK High Commission and is honored to forward the decision to … lift all flight restrictions between Kenya and the UK.”
“All passengers, regardless of nationality and residency status, coming to Kenya from the UK, regardless of their itinerary to Kenya, must self-isolate upon arrival and take a subsequent test four days after arrival.” added the letter.
In response to the good news, the website allAfricka quotes Kenya Airways’ incumbent Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Julius Thairu as saying:
“The resumption of flights to London, United Kingdom (UK) is in line with our plans to grow and expand our routes as the restrictions are lifted, which will have a positive impact on the flow of trade and tourism in the area by we enable our customers to travel comfortably all over the world. This route offers our customers convenient connections to important destinations. We remain committed to providing our customers with an onboard travel experience that takes their health and safety into account. “
Simultaneously with the resumption of flights between Nairobi and London, both counties have issued health protocols that arriving passengers must adhere to.
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Kenya is still on the red list
Passengers traveling to the UK from Kenya must be either a UK citizen, Irish citizen or have a right of residence in the UK. They must also present a negative COVID-19 certificate three days prior to travel, book a government-approved quarantine hotel within 14 days of arrival, and take two COVID-19 tests if they are in a country or area for ten days on the Red List before arriving in the UK.
Passengers arriving in Kenya from the UK must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate within 96 hours of arrival. This rule does not apply to children under five years of age. Once in Kenya, they are required to self-isolate for seven days and do a second COVID-19 PCR test four days after arriving.
While it’s nice to see Kenya Airways Nairobi flights return to London, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be busy as Kenya remains on the UK red list.
What do you think of Kenya Airways returning to London and do you think they can be profitable even if they mostly carry cargo? Please let us know what you think in the comments.