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Coronavirus: KQ yields, suspends flights to Guangzhou, China


Kenya Airways has suspended all scheduled flights to Guangzhou, China, the airline announced on Friday.

The announcement follows the coronavirus outbreak that has so far left more than 200 people around the world dead.

The airline operates two daily non-stop flights on the Nairobi-Guangzhou route thrice a week.

In a statement issued on Friday (today), the company, however, noted that flights to Bangkok and Thailand remained operational.

“We apologise to all our customers for the inconvenience and reaffirm that the safety of our customers and staff remains the highest priority,” the airline statement read in part.

EPIDEMIC

On Wednesday, the airline had said that, in liaison with the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs, it would continue to monitor the developments in China regarding the epidemic in Wuhan Province before making any major decision. The decision had left many Kenyans angered.

“The airline remains in consultation with the Ministry of Health and would like to assure our customers that we are evaluating all options and we will communicate the next steps of action at the appropriate time,” KQ said.

“In the meantime, we have implemented additional precautionary measures to ensure that our staff and customers are safe. These include screening of all passengers at the Guangzhou Airport.”

Kenya’s ambassador to China Sarah Serem had on Wednesday called on the airline to suspend all flights to China.

On Tuesday, a Kenyan student who arrived from China on Kenya Airways was quarantined at the Kenyatta National Hospital for tests after he exhibited flu symptoms.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged Kenyans to avoid non-essential travel to the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan until the situation is contained.

The Nairobi-Guangzhou route is one of KQ’s most lucrative, making about Sh14.9 million on a round trip. A return economy ticket on the route costs an average Sh63,845.

Kenya is reported to have Africa’s sixth-highest risk of receiving a case of the new coronavirus imported from China, according to a new modelling study produced by Northeastern University in the US.

More than 13 airlines across the world have suspend their flights to China, these include Air Canada, Air France, Air India, South Korean airline, Lufthansa and  Austrian Airlines

KLM opted to suspend its flights to Beijing and Shanghai from this weekend until February 9.

Tanzania’s state-owned carrier, Air Tanzania, said it will postpone its maiden flights to China. It had planned to begin charter flights to China in February.