Kenya: Local Flights to Resume Mid-Next Week After Lockdown Rules Lifted

Domestic flights will resume mid next week after the easing of lockdown restrictions that nearly brought the economy to its knees.

President Kenyatta Monday reversed the ban on air travel, allowing operators to resume flights on Wednesday next week.

This will be a big relief to local airlines and the tourism industry that has been hit by travel restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

However, to resume operations, airlines will operate in strict conformity with all applicable guidelines and protocols from both the Ministry of Health and civil aviation authorities.

COVID-19 FREE CERTIFICATE

For a start, passengers will be required to have a Covid-19 free certificate before boarding a plane. They will also be screened and their temperature checked using thermal scanners and thermal guns to ensure they don't have a fever or coronavirus symptoms.

Airlines will also be required to adhere to strict social distance guidelines that will make air transport costly. At the moment, private labs are charging as high as Sh8,000 for a single coronavirus test, an amount that is more than what airlines used to charge on some domestic routes such as Mombasa and Kisumu.

It's expected that with more people travelling, the tests will become cheaper. However, they will still be paid by the traveller.

International flights will resume from August 1, in what is set to open up the country once more to the world after almost five months of shutdown. This will set the stage for business trips and tourists to start coming back.

President Kenyatta noted that the international flights would also be in strict conformity with all protocols from the Ministry of Health, local and international civil aviation authorities, and any additional requirements applicable at the ports of departure, arrival or transit. This comes at a time Kenya Airways has announced retrenchments because of the massive losses brought about by the global lockdowns.

The national carrier does not expect demand for air transport to immediately shoot up due to other factors in the economy and the fact that the protocols will require it to ferry fewer passengers to comply with the social distancing requirements.

OBEY PROTOCOLS

On public transport, the President said that operators will not be allowed to operate unless they abide by all the protocols in place.

"Conscious that movement of people is a catalyst for the spread of the disease, there shall be no movement of public transport vehicles into and out of the areas previously under cessation of movement restrictions, without the public transport providers being compliant with all protocols developed by Ministry of Health," he said as he announced a phased reopening of the economy yesterday.

"To operate, Public Service Vehicles the operators will require mandatory certification from the Ministry of Health, in consultation with Ministry of Transport," President Kenyatta said.

Air transport protocols will be reviewed every three months, and they cover airports, passenger management, aircraft and arrival process, the management of aircrew and operators, and disinfection and sanitisation.

The Kenya Airports Authority will be required to invest in new safety and health equipment.

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