Kenya Airways, government reach deal on COVID-19 quarantine

(Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: A Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Kenyan government reached an agreement with the national carrier Kenya Airways which will see the airline’s crew not be subjected to mandatory quarantine.

Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka said the airline received permission last week, according to local publication, the Business Daily.

“We have received correspondence from government, that our people coming back will not be subjected to mandatory quarantine,” Kilavuka said.

Kenya Airways lobbied for the exemption citing a number of safety measures in place including screening of the crew before and after departures from Kenya, use of full body protective gear, disinfection of equipment and controlled movement.

The airline’s crew has been subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine at the country’s largest airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, with respect to government health regulations.

The airline which has struggled for a number of years posting losses came under additional financial pressure due to the costs involved in placing staff under quarantine.

Kilavuka said the authorisation will allow the airline to save money.

Kenya Airways has been paying Sh10,000 (about $94) per person daily in quarantine charges for 20 crew members every week.

In April, it had requested the government to excuse its crew from mandatory quarantine citing its effect on staff morale and the airline’s profitability. According to the Business Daily, Kenya Airways has paid nearly $660,000 (Sh70 million) in quarantine fees in less than two months.

That same month, the airline lost just over $751,385 (Sh80 million) in occupancy bills when it grounded some of cargo planes due to a shortage of flight staff as 283 members of its cabin crew were in mandatory quarantine.

Kenya Airways has, in recent months, been operating cargo and repatriation flights following local and international travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is banking on a rise in demand for freight to boost business during this period.