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A Kenya Airways aircraft - Boeing 787-8 packed at the JFK International Airport in New York | Photo: CHAMS Media

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KQ says physical distancing in aircraft untenable, confident of air filter capabilities

NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 27 – National carrier Kenya Airways Friday said it will be untenable to reconfigure its aircraft capacity to accommodate physical distancing protocols once flights resume.

The airline’s Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka told journalists the airline has however put in place wide-ranging sanitation measures including guidelines on mandatory wearing of mask to curtail the transmission of coronavirus.

Kilavuka noted that there was little scientific proof on the risk of transmission of the virus withing the aircraft environment noting that planes have adequate air filtration systems to mitigate risks.

“The aircraft environment and the way air circulates within the aircraft and the ventilation systems, the hyper filters reduces the risks significantly of the risks of virus, Kenya Airways will not be dong physical distance on aircraft because there is little scientific proof that there is extra risk of transmission,” he said.

Kilavuka noted that enforcing social distancing would necessitate a hike in fares for as much as 100 per cent further limiting the ability of airlines to secure bookings.  

“If we do the physical distancing, which is neutralizing middle seat, it is going to be uneconomic to fly, the air tickets will rise by up to 100 percent which will make it impossible for us to fly. I dare say most airlines will not implement that kind of a measure,” he asserted.

READ: Jambojet installs high efficiency air filters in virus prevention measures

While responding to questions from journalists, the KQ CEO indicated 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.

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“Our estimates is that since January to date, we have probably lost around USD 100 million (Sh10 billion), when we estimate to the end of the year we will loose USD 400 million to 500 million (Sh40-50 billion),” Kilavuka said.

KQ’s Chairperson Michael Joseph pleaded with the government to open the skies in order to facilitate resumption of flights which will revive revenues generated from the airline-related businesses.

“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 said.

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