Kenyan travellers to suffer as Europe airports slash flights


A KQ Dreamliner aircraft. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Passengers from Kenya are among those that would be hit by a directive issued by a number of airports in Europe, requiring carriers to operate reduced number of flights to avoid a standoff caused by high number of people travelling in the summer.

Schiphol international airport, for instance, has capped the number of flights and passengers who can travel through the Amsterdam-based facility to curb congestion that would see transit passengers miss their flights due to delays in security clearance.

Schiphol, a major international transit hub in Europe, said at least 13,000 seats would be slashed daily as the busy summer season begins. This will affect thousands of travellers who could be staring at possible cancellation of their trips to different destinations.

“Schiphol is going to limit the number of travellers that can depart from the airport each day,” said the airport on its website.

The limit in capacity means that a number of carriers will have to fly with empty seats or axe their daily flights to Amsterdam in order to comply with the new requirement.

Kenya Airways has more than three daily flights to Schiphol with majority of them being operated by their SkyTeam partner KLM Airline.

Amsterdam Schiphol airport says it has witnessed serious disruption to flight schedules mainly as the result of security staff shortages.

The airport said there are too few security employees to check all the travellers who want to fly this summer.

“Not intervening would mean unmanageable queues and many travellers would miss their flight. That would lead to unsafe situations for both travellers and staff,” said the airport.

The airport says the measure currently applies to the period from July 7 to July 31. At the end of June, we will decide whether or not we need to extend the measure.

London’s Gatwick Airport has also restricted the number of flights operating out of the airport this summer as the capacity crunch bedeviling Europe’s aviation sector continues to impact on thousands of passengers, forcing the carriers to cut on operations to avoid delays and cancellations

The management at Gatwick has asked airlines to cut their schedules by up to 50 flights per day. The downsizing of capacity will see the number of daily flights at the facility reduced from the current 900 to 825 in July and 850 in August.

Easyjet, which is the largest carrier operating out of Gatwick, has already scrapped around 40 flights per in the remaining days of June and July while British Airways has cut 8,000 flights from its March-October schedule.

The confusion in European airports, which is a major transit route for passengers flying from other regions may have an impact on Kenya’s tourism sector that is looking at a good season after the numbers were previously hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

International Air Transport Association said recently that the number of passengers seeking air travel had picked in the first quarter of this year when compared with the previous period.

IATA data for March 2022 showed strong growth in passenger traffic compared to 2021, with Europe leading the recovery.

In March 2022, traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometers rose 76 percent compared to March 2021, an improvement on the 45.5 decline recorded in February.

The summer period in Kenya, which normally starts around June and extends all the way to August normally records higher bookings from international tourists, however, the last two years have not been good for the country’s tourism sector owing to Covid-19 restrictions that discouraged people from travelling.

The normalcy in the industry is expected to return after August when a number of people seeking to travel is expected to go down.

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