Return of international flights morale booster
Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Kenya got what amounts to a stamp of approval in her efforts to re-open the economy amid Covid-19 shocks after five major airlines announced resumption of flights in and out of the country.
The move, which comes after easing of international travel restrictions, is a sigh of relief particularly for the tourism sector which greatly leverages international visitors.
With the likes of British Airways, KLM, Qatar Airways and Air France resuming flights from August 1, the sky is the limit for the tourism sector which was facing dwindling fortunes following the closure of top hotels and parks.
Indeed the sector has already lost billions of shillings in the four months of lockdown despite earnings having increased by 4 per cent last year to Sh163 billion compared to the Sh157. 4 billion recorded in 2018.
Resumption of international flights also comes as an apt boost to Kenya Airways which plans to resume external flights next month.
Incoming traffic would certainly be a welcome relief for KQ following a five-month suspension.
The national carrier estimates to make a Sh50 billion loss this financial year due to Covid-19 shocks.
To reboot the sector, the government restored domestic flights as part of a phased reopening of the economy following engagement with aviation stakeholders.
Questions, however, linger whether Kenya, or any other country for that matter, can be said to be ready for the “new normal”.
It goes without saying that protocols around hygiene and social distancing must be followed otherwise we are fighting a losing battle.
It is up to every Kenyan to prepare and innovate for this moment because a spike in infections may have direct consequences in this recovery.
Whatever it will take, the government must engineer every facet of life to align to this reality if the Covid-19 battle is to be won.
The good news, however, is that opening Kenya’s airspace comes after months of preparations to conform to the World Health Organisation and International Air Transport Association’s health guidelines for passenger planes.
Local passenger services which started on July 15 provided authorities a learning opportunity ahead of resumption of international passenger flights.
Whatever lessons learnt should come in handy as we showcase ourselves to the world once again.