KENYA – National carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has reduced Nairobi – New York flights to once per week after demand failed to grow since resuming operations on route on November on fresh Covid-19 restrictions.

The airline said the Covid-19 fears and restrictions has affected demand on the US route, prompting the national carrier to scale down frequency from the planned two weekly flights.

New travel rules require all international air travellers aged two years and older to present a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel or proof of recovery from Covid-19 to enter the United States.

America’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention director (CDC) declined to grant temporary waivers to airlines to exempt some travellers from countries with limited testing capacity.

KQ chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka said the fragile travel industry has seen a worsening dip in demand due to implementation and reinstatement of travel restrictions in various countries in response to the second wave of Coronavirus.

As such, Mr Kilavuka said passengers have scaled down their travel plans to avoid strict conditions at the ports of entry, a move that has subdued demand.

“As Kenya Airways, we have responded to this by reducing capacity deployment in some key markets such as the UK and the US. We have reduced our operations to JFK from the planned twice weekly to once weekly, and we continue to monitor the situation,” said Mr Kilavuka.

The carrier resumed the US route at the end of November with two weekly frequencies after Kenya lifted the ban on international flights.

“We have responded to this by reducing capacity deployment in some key markets such as the UK and the US. We have reduced our operations to JFK from the planned twice weekly to once weekly, and we continue to monitor the situation”

Allan Kilavuke – CEO, Kenya Airways

Mr Kilavuka said most EU countries are limiting travel from Africa while the US last month implemented Covid-19 testing as a requirement for entry.

The carrier suspended its services to France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport and the Netherlands Schipol Airport this month citing low demand on the route.

KQ was operating five flights to New York before the Covid-19 pandemic that saw the carrier ground all its aircraft in early April.

The airline was operating five flights to New York before the Covid-19 pandemic that saw the carrier ground all its aircraft in early April.

Kenya Airways started direct flights to the US in October 2018, cutting the journey to 15 hours on the long-haul route tapped as part of an effort to revive the airline’s fortunes.

It had forecast its daily direct flights to the US, which it launched for the first time in October 2018, would boost annual revenues by more than 10 percent in 2019 and 2020.

The long-haul route aimed to encourage more business and tourist travel, with the US being one of Kenya’s biggest source of visitors.

Mr Kilavuka said the China route remains one of the most profitable for the route and it flies there twice a week.

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