Kenya blinks first, lifts ban against flights from Dubai


An Emirates Airlines plane. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Travellers from Dubai will be allowed into the country from today after Kenya lifted a ban it had imposed on all inbound and transit passenger flights from the Middle East nation two weeks ago.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe told the Business Daily on Monday that the ban was lifted Monday midnight, offering a major relief to hundreds of travellers between the two destinations.

Kenya had suspended all inbound and transit passenger flights from the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) on January 10 in retaliation against a move by Dubai to ban all passenger flights from Kenya over fake Covid-19 tests.

The ban did not however affect cargo flights that are normally flown by carriers such as Kenya Airways (KQ) and Emirates airline from UEA into Kenya.

“Kenya shall do a NOTAM lifting the suspension of flights to and from UAE from midnight tonight (Monday),’’ said Mr Kibe.

The ban came a few days after UAE extended the Kenya flight ban after it established that travellers from Nairobi were testing positive for Covid-19 after arrival in the Middle East nation, despite carrying negative test results.

Mr Kibe said the scheme involved a racket of private medical testing centres that colluded with travellers to issue fake Covid-19 PCR results to aid their travel.

The Ministry of Health has however launched investigations into the matter with a view to bringing to book health officials who were involved in the shoddy deal that has now coasted Kenya millions of shillings in lost passenger revenues.

The directive came as a blow to KQ #ticker:KQ , which had seen an increase in bookings on this route due to the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020 exhibition.

The Dubai-based carrier connects the bulk of the continent’s travellers to the rest of the world through its Dubai hub with the budget airlines feeding it with cargo and passengers in major cities like Nairobi.

Kenya exported goods worth Sh25.27 billion in the nine months to September 2021 from UAE while imports from the nation stood at Sh122.35 billion in the same period.