KQ to decide future of flights to Ebola hit nations

August 13, 2014 3:45 pm
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Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said his ministry's deliberations with KQ would however not necessarily result in a blanket suspension of all flights to the Ebola struck West African countries/FILE
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said his ministry’s deliberations with KQ would however not necessarily result in a blanket suspension of all flights to the Ebola struck West African countries/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – Kenya Airways (KQ) is set to make a statement on its future operations in Ebola hit countries on Thursday.

The stand will be made after reviewing facts and advice from the International Air Travel Association (IATA), the Word Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health in Kenya regarding air operations to affected regions of West Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria).

“While none of these institutions have strongly advised that air operations should cease, Kenya Airways has religiously followed the counsel given as measures to mitigate risks associated with flying to the affected areas,” outgoing KQ Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni said in a statement to newsrooms on Wednesday evening.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said his ministry’s deliberations with KQ would however not necessarily result in a blanket suspension of all flights to the Ebola struck West African countries as their risk profiles were different.

“It’s basically to know in those four countries are we facing the same issues? Are there some countries which require more urgent attention or action compared to others?” he expounded.

Earlier on Wednesday morning he had said that even if KQ flights to West Africa are suspended until the Ebola outbreak is brought under control, “Ethiopian Airlines and Rwanda Air still fly to West Africa out of JKIA.”

And while acknowledging that several airlines had already suspended some flights to Ebola affected areas in West Africa, the designate KQ chief executive Mbuvi Ngunze said they were not operating on those routes in isolation.

KQ has however come under pressure from various quarters to suspend its flight to West Africa is the worst Ebola outbreak yet at over 1,000 deaths passes.

“KQ’s Management also takes cognizance of the sentiments coming out of other stakeholders and is taking them into consideration in the aforementioned review process,” Naikuni said.

On Wednesday, Macharia announced various other measures the government is taking to prevent the importation of Ebola but he was categorical that while the WHO classified Kenya as, “high risk,” it is not unique as most other African countries fall under this category.

“Kenya is qualifies as high risk to its geographical location and connecting flights to West Africa,” WHO Country Director Custodia Mandlhate had explained.

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