KQ, tourism bank on removal from UK red list for turnaround


A KQ Dreamliner aircraft. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The removal of Nairobi from the UK red list has come as a reprieve to the Kenya Airways, which will now see it increase the number of flights to Heathrow, one of its key routes.

Kenya Airways had cut the frequencies to UK to twice after the country was put on the red list following a surge in number of Covid-19 cases.

The move saw passengers travelling from Nairobi and who are not British citizenship refused entry in the UK, a move that cut down on demand for air travel on the route.

“We are mulling at introducing more flights on the route following the lifting of the ban on travel to the UK...,” said Kenya Airways.

KQ says they are looking at demand basing on the bookings, which will inform the number of flights to be added on the route.

Additional flights will come as a boost to both exporters and importers as more frequencies will offer increased capacity for belly cargo.

Passenger flights account for 40 percent of all cargo transported by air and a decline in capacity normally signals high cost in freight charges.

The announcement comes hardly a fortnight after British Airways resumed flights on the Nairobi-London route two months later after Kenya lifted a ban on passenger flightson the route ahead of the peak summer season.

In a surprise move, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June announced the resumption of flights to the UK after nearly a three-month ban, which coincided with the beginning of summer season where airlines record high demand from passengers. This came barely a week after the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority extended the ban for a second time to August 24.

The UK has segmented countries into a green, amber and red lists, each carrying different degrees of restrictions for arrivals back into the UK. A British citizen travelling from a green list is not required to undergo a mandatory quarantine.

Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the red list will be denied entry, while returning Britons must submit to 10 days of mandatory quarantine in hotels.

Kenya was placed on the red list in April this year, prompting Nairobi to retaliate by banning all flights to or from the UK.

Airlines across the world including KQ, are reeling from the effects of Covid-19 that have subjected the carriers to massive losses.

African airlines are projected to make a combined loss of Sh864 billion ($8 billion) at the end of this year as the emerging variants of Covid-19 and travel restrictions continue to take a toll on aviation sector.

Following Kenya’s removal from red list, tourism and hospitality industry players now want the government to reciprocate by reviewing PCR rules for the fully vaccinated international tourists.

Tourism industry players said although the UK government had removed Kenya from its controversial Red List travel ban, Kenya’s PCR rules for the fully vaccinated international tourists is still a challenge in the sector.

In Kenya, the government requires tourists to show a negative Covid-19 PCR certificate when entering and departing.

Removing Kenya from the controversial red list, tourism industry players said, will boost the sector that is reeling from the effects of the pandemic.

“Reciprocate and also review our PCR rules for the fully vaccinated tourists,” said the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers chief executive Mike Macharia on his twitter handle.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala urged Kenyans to go for vaccination as the UK travel resumes.

“This is good for travel between the UK and Kenya without tough restrictions. Let’s support our economy by travelling,” said Mr Balala, also on his Twitter handle.

The Kenya Coast Tourism Association chief executive officer, Julius Owino said the region will start receiving more international tourists, noting that the country’s inclusion on the red list severely affected the destination.

“We experienced a lot of cancellations not only from UK but even other European countries,” said Mr Owino.

However, the players urged the state to double up mass vaccination campaigns targeting all tourism players and Kenyans to assure travellers of their safety.

“We hope that the government will be bold enough and unlock the local economy especially for tourism so that visitors who come to Kenya enjoy their holiday and that will only apply if locals especially those who have been vaccinated can be allowed some space to travel and engage in other social activities with minimal disruptions,” said hotelier Dr Sam Ikwaye.

He also called on the state to revive the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector.

“Delisting will increase our members but we have to focus now on marketing and taking advantage that comes with the revised status compared to our competition,” added Dr Ikwaye.

The move comes just after Kenya rolled out an aggressive marketing campaign abroad to lure more international tourists.

Currently, managers of major hotels at the Coast are in Ukraine to market Mombasa.

Ann Peggy, general manager PrideInn Hotels, Kioko Musyoki, general manager Leopard Beach Resort, Jeff Mukolwe, general manager, Swahili Beach Resort and Nelson Mburugu, the director African Route Safaris are in the tri[.

“The leaders of the best hotels and safari companies will present their products to Ukrainian agents. This will support the charter program from Kyiv to Mombasa, which will begin on October 15 on the Ukrainian Bees Airlines wings,” the county government stated.

Every 10 days, Ukrainians will be able to travel to Kenya by direct flight.

International tourism has slumped with most hotels at the Kenyan coast depending on local tourists and conferences.