Domestic carriers face more turbulence following a third wave of Covid-19 in the country which is accompanied by travel restrictions.
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has ordered local airlines, with hubs in Nairobi, to take ground flights from Monday noon after President Uhuru Kenyatta restricted movement inside and out. outside the capital and four other counties, until further notice, to tame the spread. infections following a peak in cases.
“This is a new update indicating that domestic flights will continue to operate until Monday March 29 at 12 noon. Aircraft operations will be authorized until the stated deadline and will thereafter cease all movement, ”said KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe.
The low-cost airline Jambojet, a subsidiary of the national carrier Kenya Airways, announced on Monday the suspension of flights between Nairobi and Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Malindi and Diani.
“We regret to inform all of our customers and business partners that all flights for the following period on these routes are canceled with immediate effect,” Jambojet said.
The airline said passengers who booked tickets after March 29 will remain valid and be rescheduled to a later date at no additional cost.
“The value of these tickets will remain valid for a period of 12 months from March 29, 2021.”
Other local carriers such as Safarilink have also announced the suspension of flights.
“We will allow the use of tickets for the next three to six months without penalties as applicable,” said Alex Avedi, CEO of Safarilink. Daily business.
The aviation industry has struggled to stay afloat following the Covid-19 disruptions which saw airlines ground their fleets to curb the spread of the virus last year.
Kenya banned domestic and international flights in March 2020 and restricted travel in four counties, including Nairobi and Mombasa, to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Travel resumed in July after President Kenyatta eased restrictions.
Mr Kenyatta on Friday banned air, road and rail movements to and from Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru counties from Saturday, until notified otherwise.
Earlier this month, Jambojet had increased its frequencies on specific days leading up to Easter following strong demand from passengers looking to travel by air ahead of the holidays that begin on April 2.
The airline has increased direct flights from Eldoret to Mombasa to five per week, from four initially with an additional flight on Thursday.
The direct flight to the coastal city was introduced last year and targeted tourists from western Kenya who sought the convenience of flying directly to the coastal city without a stopover in Nairobi.
The airline flies from Eldoret to Kisumu before going to Mombasa.
“We will also continue to operate daily direct flights between Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret,” the airline said on Friday.
Kenya is grappling with a third wave of coronavirus infections as health facilities are exhausted as hospital admissions have increased 52% in the past two weeks.
The virus has infected more than 128,000 people and caused more than 2,000 deaths in the country.
The impact has been hit hard on Kenya’s crucial tourism and agricultural export activities. Business closures, layoffs, pay cuts and hiring freezes have also had an impact on consumer spending and travel.
According to Jambojet, it lost 1.2 billion shillings between April and July last year when the planes were grounded.
“The new travel restrictions imposed by the state also affect domestic carriers. It is also a blow to tourism. We may have to shut down operations again. We are trying to negotiate with the state to dispense with allowing us to evacuate international tourists stranded in the various game parks, ”said Alex Avedi, CEO of Safarilink.
Hoteliers have also reported that guests have been canceling reservations for the Easter holidays since the president’s lockdown was announced.