Kenya Airways has suspended all flights to the UK with effect from April 9th. The decision comes after the UK added Kenya to the “red list” of countries, barring most travelers from flying and requiring a hotel quarantine. The airline plans to fly extra services for the next three days in anticipation of high traffic due to the ban.
According to CGTN Africa, Kenya Airways will stop all passenger flights to and from the UK from the 9th of April onwards. The date coincides with when the UK will add Kenya to its “red list” of countries from which travel is highly restricted.
However, the decision to ban flights, rather than lower frequencies, came after the Kenyan government stepped in. Kenya retaliated to the UK’s travel ban by cutting all flights to the country and adding new restrictions for travelers from the UK.
The reduction in flights will impact passengers in the future. Under the UK’s travel ban, only British and Irish citizens, along with those with residence rights, will be allowed to travel to the UK after 4:00 AM on 9th April.
Those who do meet this criterion will need to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for 10 days and return two negative tests to leave. Failure to complete the quarantine or violations could even result in jail time for travelers.
The Kenyan government has roundly criticized the UK for imposing the travel ban and accused it of lack of communication. However, the decision to cut flights will make travel more inconvenient for Kenyan citizens and the few who can travel to the UK. Moreover, the reduction in flights will be a huge blow to Kenya Airways, which recently reported a massive loss.
In preparation for the travel ban, Kenya Airways is reportedly adding two more services to the UK on the 7th and 8th of April. The services will help travelers look to enter the UK or return home find flights as seats reduce and prices rise. However, demand is extremely likely to outstrip supply in times of travel bans.
Direct flight prices to the UK have already surged after the news of the ban. A one-way ticket from Nairobi to London Heathrow currently costs $4,300 at the time of writing and only available in business class. Connecting flights remain cheaper but could rise in prices in the next few hours or days.
KQ’s tough year
Kenya Airways has found itself caught in the crossfire on this heated argument between the UK and Kenya. However, the airline is already battling several issues on its home turf. The carrier recently reported a loss of $330 million for 2020, its worst ever. The airline is also locked in a dispute with its pilots over wage cuts and withholding pay.
The ban on UK service will hurt Kenya Airways considering it is one of the carrier’s most lucrative. However, cargo services and a speedy return of the red list in the future will both be a top priority for the airline.