Nairobi-based Kenya Airways has said that it will resume flights from Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) to London Heathrow (LHR) starting Saturday, June 26, 2021. All flights between Kenya and the United Kingdom ceased on April 9, 2021, after the UK government added Kenya to its “red list” of countries.
Based on the COVID-19 infection rate, counties are listed as either green (no restrictions), amber (some restrictions), or red (mandatory ten-day quarantine). People returning to the UK from red countries must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for a minimum of ten days at their own expense. The price for the hotel stay is £1,750 ($2,417), per adult and while there, they must take two COVID-19 PCR tests that prove negative.
The Kenyan government retaliated
Following the news that Kenya was being added to the UK red list, the Kenyan government retaliated by banning flights to the East African nation from the UK. By doing this, the Kenyan government effectively put another nail in Kenya Airways’ coffin on the back of a yearly $330 million loss.
In early June, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) extended the ban for a second time to August 24, 2021. Now fearing that its essential summer tourism season would be affected, the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday that flights between Kenya and the UK had the go-ahead to resume.
The high season for tourists visiting Kenya comes during the dry period between July and September. It is when the world-renowned migration of wildebeest and zebra through Maasai Mara Game Reserve takes place.
Kenya needs tourism
Kenyan business news website Business Daily quotes a letter from the Ministry to the British High Commission which says:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya presents its compliments to the British High Commission and has the honor to convey the decision … to lift all flight restrictions between Kenya and the United Kingdon.”
“All passengers irrespective of nationality and residency status coming to Kenya from the United Kingdom, irrespective of their route of travel to Kenya, shall be required to self-isolate upon arrival and take a subsequent test for four days after arrival,” the letter added.
In response to the good news, the website allAfricka quotes Kenya Airways acting Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Julius Thairu of saying the following:
“The resumption of flights to London, United Kingdom (UK) is in line with our plans to grow and expand our routes as restrictions lift which will positively impact the flow of trade and tourism across the region by offering our customers convenient travel across the world. This route offers our customers convenient connections to key destinations. We remain fully committed to offering our customers an onboard travel experience that has their health and safety in mind.”
To coincide with the resumption of flights between Nairobi and London, both counties have issued health protocols that arriving passengers must adhere to.
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Kenya is still on the red list
United Kingdom Rules:
Passengers traveling to the UK from Kenya must be either UK national, Irish nationals or have a right of residence in the UK. They will also need to provide a negative COVID-19 certificate three days before travel, book a government-approved quarantine hotel within 14-days before arrival and take two COVID-19 tests if they have been in a red list country or territory ten days before arriving in the UK.
Passengers arriving in Kenya from the United Kingdom must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate conducted within 96 hours before arrival. This rule does not apply to children under five years old. Once in Kenya, they must self-isolate for seven days and take a second COVID-19 PCR test four days after arrival.
While it is nice to see Kenya Airways Nairobi to London flights return, it is hard to imagine that they will be busy since Kenya remains on the UK’s red list.
What do you think about Kenya Airways returning to London, and do you think they can be profitable even if they mostly carry cargo? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.