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Plane capacities will not be reduced for social distancing, Transport CS says

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has said airline capacity will not be reduced to observe social distancing rules once domestic and international flights resume.

The CS made the announcement while outlining the protocols the ministry has come up with to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country during a press briefing on Wednesday at Transcom House in Nairobi.

AIR TRAVEL

This comes at a time the country is preparing to open its airspace for domestic and international flights in the next few weeks.

Macharia said airlines will not have to drastically reduce the number of passengers for them to fly, adding that if they carry less than 75 per cent in their flights, they would incur losses.

He said this will help in revamping the tourism sector, which has taken a hit since the pandemic struck the country in March this year.

“The passengers must go with Covid-19 free certificate. I would expect that if you are flying out, it would be prudent for you to be tested because you may not be allowed into other countries,” he said.

The CS also said an exception would be made for passengers who have to catch a late-night flight.

“If you are flying at night and you show the boarding pass/ticket, you will be allowed to go to the airport with your driver,” he said.

AIR TICKET PRICES

The CS, however, discouraged travellers from having many people escorting them to the airport.

In May, Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka said the price of air tickets will most likely be hiked if the government allows the national carrier to resume flights.

He indicated that air travel would completely change as every country comes up with new plans and policies to be adapted post coronavirus.

He noted that 55 to 65 per cent of people travel for leisure, which means between May and December airlines are missing out on this big business and income.

“Travel is not going to be cheap. 55-65 per cent of people travel for leisure. Therefore we are going to lose 51-76 per cent of our market between now and December as business travellers are the ones that are going to travel first,” Kilavuka said.

SAFETY MEASURES

The KQ boss noted that among other measures wearing of masks will be mandatory for passengers and crew while airport staff will be required to wear protective gear.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday announced that all international flights shall resume from August 1.

The President also announced the resumption of local flights from July 15 under strict guidelines in the country’s planned phased reopening.

The move comes after three months of suspension of all travels in and out of the country.

The global aviation industry has been massively affected by the coronavirus pandemic with most countries having suspended international flights.