Kenya Airways will restrict its operations to domestic routes after it grounded international passenger travel following the State order banning international flights to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
The airline’s chief executive Allan Kilavuka in a staff memo on Sunday said Mombasa and Kisumu flights will remain operational, offering a sigh of relief to domestic travellers.
The loss-making carrier will, however, ground all international passenger flights from Tuesday midnight, a big hit on its revenues.
The decision comes barely a day after the State ordered all incoming and outgoing international passenger flights to cease operations, starting March 25, 2020.
“To comply with the directive, we have, therefore, temporarily suspended all international services effective midnight March 25, 2020, until further notice,” said Mr Kilavuka in the memo.
The airline, which has so far temporarily suspended flights to and from Guangzhou, China, among other routes, following the outbreak of the coronavirus said the temporary ban will not affect cargo flights.
Cargo flights, Mr Kilavuka said, will remain operational to offer emergency services and supplies.
Customers affected by the suspension can change their bookings for later travel or get vouchers for future travel within 12 months.
“We also recognised that these sudden changes have greatly inconvenienced many of our customers and we would like to apologise sincerely for this but hope that we will come back stronger than ever in due course,” said Mr Kilavuka.
Kenya on March 13 confirmed its first case of the coronavirus. The cases have since jumped to 16 while racing to contact 363 individuals who came into contact with those who have tested positive.
The travel restriction is set to worsen KQ’s already precarious financial position.
The National Securities Exchange-listed firm made a net loss of Sh8.5 billion in the half year ended June, more than doubling the net loss of Sh4 billion the year before as costs rose faster than revenue.
The loss saw the company’s negative equity widen to Sh16.1 billion from Sh2.4 billion, underlining its capital crisis.
Turnover in the review period rose to Sh58.5 billion from Sh52.1 billion, representing a 12.2 percent increase.