Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) on Saturday night received Lufthansa, British Airways and KLM flights for the first time since the reopening of Kenyan airspace to international flights.
Speaking during a reception ceremony for the flights at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Alex Gitari, the Ag. Managing Director of KAA said the Authority had lost 80 percent of its business which comes from international passenger flights.
“The COVID-19 Pandemic is undoubtedly a global crisis of unprecedented proportions; the enormous aftermath on the aviation industry has affected all airport users, the aviation sector workforce, and the whole supply chain,” said Mr. Gitari.
He said the Authority regarded the resumption of international flights as a significant milestone in the aviation industry which has been one of the hardest hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have not had international flights for 120 days, this resumption of international flights will also buoy the fortunes of KAA,” he added.
Airports Council International estimates a reduction of more than 4.6 billion passengers in 2020. The estimated decline in total airport revenues on a global scale is estimated to be more than $97 billion (Ksh10.45 trillion) for 2020.
“The protocols issued for Air Travel Operations during the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis have been developed to help contain the spread of the virus and ensure that the sector is opened up taking cognizance of the measures put in place by the Ministry of Health,” said Mr. Gitari,
The Acting Managing Director said the KAA was investing massively in technology to improve check-in procedures through use of e-passports where passengers scan their passports “and they are let through without physical contact at immigration counters.”
Other measures put in place at Kenyan airports to minimize the spread of COVID-19 virus include; installation of thermal screening equipment, provision of handwashing and sanitization stations, provision of Port Health observation rooms and mounting of physical distancing markers.
Mr Gitari reiterated that passengers arriving in Kenya will need a COVID-19 Certificate for a test taken not earlier than 96 hours before flight.
The passengers will be subjected to thermal screening and will be expected not to exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms.
“At the airport, the passengers will be observed by our port health personnel for COVID-19 symptoms, they are also expected to have filled a questionnaire and there is an app that has been issued to guide passengers on filling that questionnaire before they arrive,” said Mr. Gitari. He added that the questionnaire is supposed to help the authorities with contact tracing where necessary.
Passengers departing from Kenya will be required to check and ascertain the protocols that they are expected to fulfill in their destination countries.
The KAA Managing Director noted that KAA had already provided its frontline staff with personal protective equipment including masks, gloves and disinfectants in sufficient quantities.
“We are also encouraging retailers within our airports to accept cashless payments which will reduce the risk of COVID-19 virus infection,” he concluded.