We won’t suspend flights to China, says Kenya Airways

Wednesday March 18 2020
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A Kenya Airways plane in flight. The airline has said it will not suspend its flights to China following the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ALLAN OLINGO

Kenya Airways (KQ) has said it will not suspend its flights to China following the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

The announcement comes even as British Airways suspended flights to Beijing and Shanghai after the UK government advised against non-essential travel to China.

The Kenyan national carrier instead said that it is closely monitoring the situation before it takes any step.

“Cancellation of the flights is on the table but we are monitoring and we will take the action as soon as there’s imminent danger,” the airline's acting chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka said Wednesday.

This comes even as the Kenyan Ambassador to China Sarah Serem called on the airline to suspend flights to the country until the virus is contained.

REGULAR MONITORING

“We are monitoring this on a very regular basis, as frequently as every one hour. We will make a decision in collaboration with the government on if and when we should suspend the flights,” Mr Kilavuka said.

KQ, which operates the Nairobi-Guangzhou route thrice a week, was in the news on Tuesday after one of its passengers from China was quarantined over the suspected deadly virus.

“This is very important to us, not just for the China route but an entire network. It is a global issue and airlines are looking at it very seriously. We have taken precautionary measures right from boarding to ensure that we do not allow on board anyone who hasn’t been cleared by the port health bureau of China. So, anyone from Wuhan city in China will not be allowed on our flights,” Mr Kilavuka said.

AIRCRAFT STERILISED

“On top of that, we are sterilising our aircraft while our crew use protective gear on the flights and off the flights while in China. We are in close collaboration with the port health of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Guangzhou where we fly to as we seek to protect our passengers,” he added.

The Kenyan student from China who arrived at the JKIA with coronavirus-like symptoms still remains admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) isolation ward.

The unnamed student, in his early 20s, travelled via KQ and arrived at JKIA with coronavirus-like symptoms. He was rushed to hospital by the Ministry of Health at 9.30am.

The student is said to have originated from Wuhan, the city that is the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic.