State relaxes Covid quarantine for KQ

KQ chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka. FILE PHOTO | NMG Kenya Airways crew flying back into the country will not be forced into mandatory quarantine after the carrier struck a deal with the government over handling of its staff.

KQ chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka said the firm got authorisation last week.

The airline’s crew, who have been operating cargo and repatriation flights, had to be subjected to a 14-day quarantine at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines.

“We have received correspondence from government, that our people coming back will not be subjected to mandatory quarantine,” said Mr Kilavuka.

The move comes as a relief to the airline, which is struggling financially following the grounding of airlines three months ago.

Mr Kilavuka said this will help KQ to save cash that it would have spent on paying accommodation charges for its employees.

The airline has been parting with Sh10,000 per person every day in quarantine charges for 20 crew weekly.

The carrier had in April requested the government to exempt their crew from mandatory quarantine, arguing that it not only demoralised them but also took a toll on their bottom line, which saw it part with more than Sh70 million in quarantine fee in under two months.

The protocol, which KQ used to seek exemption was a set of rules outlining crew safety measures the airline took.

Some of the measures included screening the crew before and after leaving the country, use of full body protective gear, disinfection of the equipment and controlled movement.

In April, KQ had to ground some of its cargo planes due to a shortage of flight staff as its 283 cabin crew remained in mandatory quarantine, costing the firm Sh80 million in occupancy bills.Kenya Airways has more than 30 planes, mainly passenger aircraft.The carrier is betting on cargo shipment using passenger planes, especially for long haul, amid a rise in demand for freight.President Uhuru Kenyatta has given an indication that he will be lifting restrictions on cessation of movement between counties, a move that may see airlines resume domestic flights soon.The current containment measures will be coming to an end on July 6.

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