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Kenya Airways to resume London flights as summer season starts

kq

A Kenya Airways plane. FILE PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG

Kenya Airways will resume operations on the Nairobi-London route on June 26 after the State restored flights ahead of the peak summer tourism season.

The national carrier suspended flights on the route in April following a government directive banning all flights to or from Kenya to the UK.

“We are starting with one at the moment, but we shall add more frequencies if we realise that there is a rise in forward bookings,” KQ director of corporate communication Dennis Kashero told the Business Daily.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe announced on Friday the lifting of the ban through a notice to the airmen (Notam) after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had allowed the resumption of air travel between the two countries.

Kenya suspended operation on the route in a retaliatory move after the UK government placed Nairobi in its ‘red list’, barring Kenyans from travelling to the UK.

A sharp decline in summer bookings last year saw KQ losses nearly triple to Sh36.2 billion in the year ending December as the carrier sank deeper into the red following a slump in passenger numbers caused by Covid-19.

The national carrier normally makes the bulk of its revenue at the onset of summer starting June to September when demand for air travel is high.

Passenger revenue during the period slumped by Sh69 billion following the grounding of airlines as different countries closed their airspace.

“We lost the summer booking during the review period and this is the time when we make the bulk of our money,” said the airline during the investors briefing recently.

The total number of passengers ferried during that period dropped from 5.2 million a year earlier to 1.8 million, marking one of the largest declines in carrier’s history.

UK is one of the major routes for KQ with its hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport acting as a transit hub for passengers from other countries who want to connect to the UK.

UK visitors are among the top visitors for Kenya, playing a major role in the country’s tourism sector.