Economy

Kenya digs in, extends Dubai ban as stalemate continues

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An Emirates Airlines plane. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Monday issued the order extending the Dubai fights suspension till January 24, 2022 after the two nations failed to reach a settlement.
  • KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe told the Business Daily that he had opened talks with his counterpart in Dubai to lift the ban failing which he would extend the suspension.
  • The initial suspension, which had been in place since last Monday, expired yesterday at midnight.

Kenya has extended the suspension of all inbound and transit passenger flights from the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) by another week after Dubai failed to lift a ban on air travellers from the East African nation.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Monday issued the order extending the Dubai fights suspension till January 24, 2022 after the two nations failed to reach a settlement.

KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe told the Business Daily that he had opened talks with his counterpart in Dubai to lift the ban failing which he would extend the suspension.

The initial suspension, which had been in place since last Monday, expired yesterday at midnight.

“I have corresponded with the director-general of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and I’m waiting for his feedback before the close of business today (yesterday),” said Mr Kibe Monday.

“If they don’t respond before 5 p.m. today (Monday), I will extend Dubai–Nairobi passenger flight suspension effective midnight.”

Kenya last Monday suspended all inbound and transit passenger flights from UAE to retaliate a move by Dubai to ban all passenger flights from the East African nation over fake Covid tests.

The ban does not, however, affect cargo flights that are normally flown by carriers such as Kenya Airways and Emirates from the UAE into Kenya.

It comes barely a few days after UAE extended its ban on passenger flights from Kenya after it reportedly 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 racket involved private medical testing centres that colluded with travellers to issue fake Covid-19 PCR results to aid their travel to Dubai.

The Ministry of Health has launched a probe on the matter with a view to bringing to book health officials involved in the fraud that has now cost Kenya millions of shillings in lost flight revenues.

The directive comes as a blow to Kenya Airways, which had seen an increase in bookings on this route occasioned by the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020 exhibition.

Kenya Airways suspended passenger flights to Dubai last month in line with the directive.

The national carrier said it would refund passengers who had booked tickets for travel within the suspension period. The travellers will also be allowed to rebook when flights resume.

Dubai-based Emirates also announced it was suspending its flights to comply with Kenya’s new directive.

The extension of the Dubai–Nairobi passenger flights ban comes at a time Kenya is recording a drop in the Covid infections.

The positivity rate declined to 7.8 per cent on Sunday from a high of more than 30 per cent at the beginning of the year.