July 14, 2020: Amid reports of Kenya Airways (KQ) plans to make job cuts ahead of a possible nationalisation, the Kenyan government announced a planned resumption of local and international air travel.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in an address to the nation said that domestic flights will resume on July 15 while international flights will resume on August 1, as per CGTN Africa.
In March, the government suspended all international flights in and out of the country. In May, the government then extended a ban on commercial flights, with the exception of flights arriving to evacuate foreign nationals. In addition to emergency flights, cargo flights were also exempted during the suspension.
“As air operators, we have put in place measures that will enable passengers to fly safely,” said the executive secretary of the Kenya Association of Air Operators, Col. (RTD) E.K. Waithaka.
The news is welcome for the national carrier, which had switched its focus to operating cargo and repatriation flights following the suspension.
The airline has struggled for a number of years posting losses and came under additional financial pressure due to the costs involved in placing staff under quarantine.
Kenya Airways board chairman Michael Joseph commented, “From a Kenya Airways point of view, we all want to go as soon as possible. If we could fly tomorrow, we could fly tomorrow. We need to fly, the country needs us to fly, and the business needs us to fly.”
KQ is expected to sack an unknown number of staff, reduce its network and dispose of certain assets, according to an internal memo dated July 3. The airline CEO Allan Kilavuka said that KQ had lost an estimated $100 million in revenue due to the current situation.
In March, Jambojet, the budget carrier and a subsidiary of KQ, suspended its flights to Kigali and Entebbe citing a reduction of travellers on its international routes.