Expatriates in Kenya are paying up to three times normal ticket prices to return to their home countries as airlines provide charter flights for repatriation.
Foreign governments have organised for charter flights from firms, including Kenya Airways and Ethiopian airlines, which are charging a premium for the services.
Kenya Airways will Friday ferry passengers to London Heathrow from JKIA charging Ksh187,692 ($1,876) for the one-way ticket including testing for Covid-19 at Lancet. Normally, a ticket from Nairobi to London and back at this point of the year would start at Ksh96,430 ($964) or about Ksh48,215 ($482) one way.
“This is a charter flight. Under normal operations, the cost is spread out. Now it is concentrated on a few flights. There is also the extra cost of protection, cleaning and fumigation,” said Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka in a phone interview with Business Daily.
“We also have to ensure safe passage for crew if there is a layover. All these costs add up and there are no economies of scale.”
Mr Kilavuka added that the return flight would however not ferry any Kenyans back as “some processes are not complete for bringing people back. It is an ongoing process, but we will not bring back Kenyans this time.”
The airline is still in negotiations in government. In the original announcement, Kenyans were to fly back home on the flight on Saturday and be subject to a 14- to 28-day quarantine at government centres at their own cost in addition to the purchase of the ticket.
The Kenyan High Commission in the UK last week issued a notice indicating that KQ had given 211 as the minimum number of passengers for whom the flight could be arranged pending confirmation of viability of the flight.
Foreign governments have continued to evacuate their citizens including the European Union which organised a charter flight with Ethiopian Airlines that left for Frankfurt yesterday from Nairobi with the one-way ticket costing Ksh152,818 ($1,528). This would usually be the cost of a return trip during high season.
The flight had 263 available seats with no option of business or first class, no in-flight entertainment and no discount for children on infants.
ET also had a similar arrangement with the US government to evacuate Americans from Nairobi to Washington on Wednesday this week.