- According to KQ’s chief executive Allan Kilavuka, the airline plans to start operations to the USA, China and Thailand from October
- flights on Saturday will depart to London, Dubai, Addis Ababa, Kigali, Dar es Salaam and Lusaka.
Kenya Airways (KQ) resumed its international passenger services on Saturday, following the easing of movement restrictions as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The first international flight - KQ100 - departs to London.
Kenya Airways board chairman Michael Joseph on Saturday said, "This inaugural flight to London is the most important and most emotional. This has been a tremendously difficult time for staff."
Joseph will be among those on the inaugural flight.
British Deputy High Commissioner Susie Kitchens was also present.
"We are in solidarity with you ... we are back in action... we were delighted flowers and vegetables kept being brought in," she said.
During the month there will be a gradual increase in the network with flights to Paris, Mumbai and Amsterdam.
In Africa, the airline will operate flights to Accra, Dzaoudzi, Freetown, Harare, Kilimanjaro, Lagos, Monrovia, Moroni, Nampula and Zanzibar. Based on demand and other factors, resumption of services to other destinations around the globe will occur.
Foreign Affairs CAS Ababu Namwamba said, "It's really special for us to be here to witness one of the key steps in reopening the economy."
The airline is also providing sanitizer stations onboard and washing of hands will be encouraged by the crew onboard the flights.
Furthermore, aircraft are fitted with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. The filters ensure that the quality of air onboard is kept clean by constant filtration and replacement with air from outside the aircraft.
They also trap particulates such as viruses and bacteria, and as the air flows primarily from the ceiling to the floor, it helps minimize particulates spreading throughout the cabin.
The airline will continuously review the protocols in place and update where necessary to ensure the health and safety of all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and aviation industries, globally.
According to IATA, demand for travel is forecast to fall by 58 per cent this year, while passenger revenues will decline by over $6 billion (ShSh648 billion) compared to the previous year.
Kenya’s tourism industry meanwhile has lost Sh80 billion shillings ($752 million) in revenue so far due to the crisis.
''While we do not expect these sectors to immediately resume business-as-usual in a world where travel restrictions are still a reality, the resumption of international flights is an important step for Kenya towards bringing these sectors back to life,’’ Kilavuka said.
According to the Kenya Airways chairman, Michael Joseph, the global economic and geopolitical context remains uncertain and it will take another two to three years to gain the confidence of travelers.
“However, the resumption of international flights from Nairobi to the world is a major step towards recovery, as it will enable local businesses to connect with global markets,’’ he said.