Kenya: Not Yet Uhuru as Kenyatta Extends International Travel Restrictions

Testing for COVID-19 is carried out at Kenya Coast National Polytechnic (file photo).

Nairobi — The Kenyan territory will remain out of bounds to international travelers after President Uhuru Kenyatta extended international travel restrictions.

In an address from State House Nairobi, the president directed the Ministry of Transport to engage all key stakeholders and develop protocols to guide the resumption of local air travel within seven days.

In March, the country closed her borders, canceled international flights, and imposed strict entry and quarantine requirements to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 2,600 including 83 fatalities.

"I have applied my mind to the different scenarios presented by our experts. And I have reconciled myself to the fact that to 'open' or not to 'open' up is not a dilemma between a right and a wrong. It is a dilemma between two rights," Kenyatta said on Saturday.

The extension of travel restrictions comes even as Kenya continues to register massive losses in the aviation and tourism sector owing to the impact of the viral disease.

Last week, National carrier Kenya Airways posted a net loss of Sh12.98 billion for the year ended December 2019, compared to the Sh7.558 billion loss posted a year earlier.

The loss, which was made pre-COVID-19, was largely expected, after KQ warned shareholders in December that it expected its net profit for the year ending December 2019 to decline by at least 25, on account of increased competition in the airline's area of operations.

All indicators show that the airline will most likely suffer more losses in this financial year due to the virus.

According to a report by international air transport lobby, IATA, airlines around the world have parked between 80 and 90 percent of their aircraft, some 4.5 million flights have been canceled and an estimated $314 billion in revenues will be lost this year.

"We've never seen anything like this," Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Air Transport Association which represents some 290 airlines, told AFP earlier this month.

In April, the International air transport lobby, IATA, strengthened its call for urgent action from governments in Africa to provide financial relief to airlines ahead of potential revenue loss by carriers in Africa to US$4 billion.

"This translates into a drop of industry revenues of 32 percent for Africa for 2020 as compared to 2019," IATA said.

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