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President Uhuru Kenyatta during a virtual leaders forum on US-Africa trade convened by the Corporate Council on Africa/PSCU

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Govt mulls reopening domestic flights, calibrated resumption of international travel

NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 27 – President Uhuru Kenyatta Friday said domestic flights could resume in the next couple of days even as the country gears for the reopening of the economy ahead of the anticipated review of inter-county travel restrictions on July 6.

Speaking during a Corporate Council on Africa’s Inaugural Leaders Forum, he said the resumption of local flights will set the pace for a calibrated resumption of international flights in coming months.

“We are going to start domestic flights and this is what we are going to use as a trial over the next couple of days because we are opening up lockdown we have had between counties,” the Head of State said during the virtual forum hosted by the Washington-based Council.

“That is going to set the pace for us to open international flights,” Kenyatta added.

The President noted that his government is eager to open up the economy but measures will must be in place to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

“If you don’t have necessary precautions, opening up quickly has its downsides so we are very eager to open up but we are eager to stay safe, stay healthy and save lives. We are doing everything to ensure we get back to the skies,” President Kenyatta remarked.

His remarks come at a time the national carrier, Kenya Airways, has decried losses triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline’s Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka noted that the national carrier has lost in excess of Sh10 billion in revenue since January further predicting up to Sh50 billion in losses by December in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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While affirming the airline’s readiness to resume flying, KQ’s Chairperson Michael Joseph urged the government to open the skies in order to facilitate resumption of flights which will revive revenues generated from the airline-related businesses.

Joseph affirmed that resumption of flights will reduce the financial burden felt by the tourism and hospitality sector, allow tourists to the country and secure jobs for many Kenyans.

“Our plea is that can we start flying as soon as possible, even if it is at reduced level, any commercial flights will help us a lot, so can we start earning revenue, bring  tourists to Kenya, bring business meetings, hotels will open, create more job and get more people to work,” he told journalists on Friday.

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