Kenya Airways forced to halt Rome flights by social media s***storm


(Posted Friday the 13th of March 2020 – from the Observatory by Geolodges, Rubirizi District, Uganda)

(This image until this morning was still the headline picture on the Kenya Airways Facebook page many hours after the airline announced the suspension of the route)

Kenya Airways has overnight announced that the airline will now halt their flights to and from Rome – and also Geneva which was the termination point of this service – effective immediately.
Social media went into overdrive when it became known that a planeload of passengers from Rome – Italy has become Europe’s hotbed of #COVID19 – had landed in Nairobi, leading to accusations that the airline was putting profit before common sense, caution and public health safety. The critique also extended to the Kenya government, for all intent and purpose the owner of the airline, for not stepping in earlier and enforcing a flight ban in a more timely manner.

Flights from many other countries to and from Italy had already been suspended for some time now and questions are being asked why Kenya Airways took that long to halt flights.
It was only on the 31st of January, that the airline, also as a result of public pressure, announced the halt of their flights to Guangzhou, after two days earlier issuing a statement that they would ‘continue to monitor developments‘ when even then the need to act was overwhelming.

Said the airline in a statement late yesterday: “In response to the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, Kenya Airways has suspended its flights on the Rome- Geneva route effective Friday, March 13, 2020, until April 30, 2020” which was generally seen as too little too late. The airline added that customers affected by the cancellation will be booked to alternative flights or receive a full refund.

The statement then went on to say, in a repetition of the end January statement – showing that no lesson was learned from then – thatThe situation is dynamic and we are currently monitoring any developments‘ adding further fuel to the social media frenzy which followed the landing of a Kenya Airways aircraft in Nairobi with passengers who boarded in Rome.

Other questions ATCNews readers in Kenya asked and are awaiting answers for from their government are if the passengers have been quarantined, and if so where, if all of them have been tested already and if passengers were let go as happened to 239 passengers on the last China Southern flight into Nairobi why that was allowed and by whom.

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