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Kenya Airways reduces flights to Uganda over rising Covid-19 cases

A Kenya Airways Aircraft (File Photo)

Kenya Airways has joined other airlines in cutting flights destined to Entebbe as Covid-19 third wave takes its toll on Uganda.

In June, Emirates Airline suspended passenger flights from Uganda to Dubai until further notice, responding to a UAE government directive which stopped Ugandans traveling to the region.

Later, Rwanda Air too suspended flights to and from Entebbe International Airport.

Kenya Airways and the other airlines are citing high cases of Covid-19 in Uganda and strict government containment measures, which have reduced demand on the route, as causes for the reduction in the flights.

However, when contacted on Kenya’s decision, the head of Communication at the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), Mr Vianney Luggya said: “We are yet to get an official communication about Kenya’s decision to cut flights.

However, a reduction in the frequency of flights by any airline is a normal business decision, especially during these times when passenger traffic from one point to another is much less owing to the effects occasioned by the COVID19 pandemic on the Aviation industry across the globe.”  

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Mr Luggya added that in order to curb the further spread of the new coronavirus wave, UCAA restricted flights from India.

A report by Business Daily indicates that KQ has cut the number of flights from 12 a week to nine citing low loads on the route as passengers keep off the route.

Uganda is one of the key routes for Kenya Airways with the most frequencies within the region and low demand is set to impact on the carrier’s earnings.

“There is a third wave in Uganda and we have had to restrict our flights by cutting on frequencies,” said Mr Allan Kilavuka, Chief Executive Officer Kenya Airways.

He said the emerging waves of the virus has severely impacted on the carrier as each time they start picking up, countries announce outbreak of new waves.

Uganda is at the moment battling the third wave that has led to a total lockdown in the landlocked nation with restriction on movement from one district to another.

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Mr Kilavuka said restriction on the UK route, which is one of the lucrative destination in Europe has also impacted on the airline’s revenue.

The carrier resumed the UK route last Saturday with one flight a day but Kenyans are still restricted from travelling there as Nairobi has been placed under the red list.

The carrier has negotiated for productivity-based method of payment with its lessors in order to avoid fixed cost and cut on the high expenses involved on fleet management at the time when the airline is struggling with low demand from passengers.

The carrier will save $45 million this year after it changed its terms with the lessors to only pay for the hours the aircraft are operational.

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