Coronavirus impacts Kenya’s air travel as bookings tumble

This comes 24 hours after the government suspended direct flights from northern Italy where at least 79 people have died/COURTESY NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 5 – Kenya’s air travel has recorded a 6 percent decline in traveler bookings owing to the global outbreak of the coronavirus.

Kenya Association of Travel Agents chairperson Mohammed Wanyoike says the Association expects the decline to continue, even as the country effects more travel restrictions over fears of the epidemic.

“We are expecting this number to increase in short term as travel restrictions come into effect to key markets and destinations as witnessed in China, South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Italy,” he said.

Wanyoike’s sentiments come less than 24 hours after the government suspended direct flights from northern Italy where at least 79 people have died.

Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways already banned flights to China, weeks before a court action barred China Southern Airline from flying to the country.

Wanyoike said the agency hopes the travel restrictions and advisories will be temporary measures to help contain the virus that has so far killed over 3,200 people worldwide. More than 94,000 people have been infected in 81 countries and territories.

On a continental level, the Association noted that intra-Africa travel has been unaffected and remains largely stable. Saving jobs

Despite the massive losses being faced, Wanyoike said the Association said it has no intention of firing its workers but will opt to send them on compulsory leave should the scenario continue to worsen.

“None of our workers have been sent home but if the numbers continue declining, we will be asking them to take leave, but they will be paid during their time,” he said.

To maximize on future business, Wanyoike says the agency has provided re-booking options to travelers.

“We are also calling upon travelers to engage directly with KATA for them to receive credible information to guide their travel decisions,” Wanyoike stated.

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