Kenya’s air travel industry to take 3 years to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels

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Empty seats are seen at a departure lounge while a grounded aircrafts stand on the tarmac at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on April 3, 2020. - In addition to a night curfew in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Kenya suspended all travel for all persons coming into Kenya from any country with reported COVID-19 coronavirus cases. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: Empty seats are seen at a departure lounge while a grounded aircrafts stand on the tarmac at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images

Kenya’s domestic air travel operators on Wednesday said the industry could take up to three years to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Eutychus Waithaka, executive secretary of Kenya Association of Air Operators told Xinhua in Nairobi that out of the more than 1,200 aircrafts registered in the country, about 80 percent are not operational due to the travel restrictions in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The most affected air operators are those that cater for passengers for tourism and business travel,” Waithaka said.

He revealed that the operators least affected are those in the cargo space as airfreight is considered an essential service.

According to Waithaka, the travel sector has been affected since March 2020 to date and so the sector will require an economic stimulus package in order to restart and recover.

According to the industry, Kenya’s travel operators are disadvantaged as compared to their peers in developed countries that are manufacturers of aircraft and their spare parts.

“We still have to maintain the aircraft even for those not flying in order to ensure our safety standards are preserved,” Waithaka added.

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