NO TOURIST FLIGHTS TO THE PARKS OUT OF NAIROBI – A MESSY AND COSTLY U-TURN
(Posted 30th March 2021)
‘Now you can and now you can’t‘ comes to mind as the back and forth of tourist flights to the national parks or the Kenya coast ended up on the wrong side of the fence for visitors from abroad.
The decision by President Kenyatta, in the face of the entire tourism industry struggling to keep the industry going, has wrongfooted air operators, which had yesterday announced that the flight ban into and out of Wilson Airport, effective yesterday at 12.00 hrs noon would not apply for flights of international tourists.
Following our communiqué of yesterday, we are pleased to inform you that the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has allowed international tourist flights to operate domestically after the previously set deadline of Monday 29th March 2021.
Airkenya will accept all international tourists’ bookings from Travel Agents and Tour operators to all the destinations served in the network.
Subsequently is it now impossible for international visitors, to connect in Nairobi to the coast, or connect via Nairobi when flying from one national park to another or using flights out of Wilson Airport to connect to Lamu, Malindi, Mombasa and Diani.
This disrupts itineraries and has already led to sharpish reactions by local and international tour- and safari operators, whose clients itineraries are now being disrupted, at times leading to very costly reroutings.
‘Any additional cost, when clients have been booked on a prepaid itinerary, as a result of not being able to fly from their park location to another park, via Nairobi or even directly, when the aircraft routing originates at Wilson Airport, or even clients who were to connect for instance to Zanzibar via Wilson Airport, to any Kenya coast destination, will now have to come out of our pockets‘ complained a regular source from Kenya to ATCNews, preferring anonymity after adding; ‘In Asterix and Obelix they keep saying THE ROMANS ARE CRAZY but I must add so our our leading Romans in Nairobi. The damage they are doing to the tourism industry is massive, after we as a sector spent heavily to promote Kenya and bring the tourists back. These politicians stood by idle as case numbers increased and increased and did nothing and now they step so hard on the brake again without consultations or concern for the tourism industry‘.
Meanwhile has the City of Mombasa also announced that no one can enter the city without a negative COVID19 test, while pedestrian commuters using the Likoni ferry must divert to the more recently launched floating bridge, further into the Likoni harbour area.
Travel out of or through Nairobi from upcountry has been curtailed anyway after Nairobi and even neighbouring counties have been subjected to a hard lockdown with no air, rail or road traffic allowed into or out of the city, apart from truck transport. Also affected are Machakos, Kajiado, Nakuru and Kiambu counties, effectively leading to upcountry and coast locations being cut off from each other. Neighbouring countries have sought clarification from Kenya authorities regarding cargo traffic destined for hinterland countries, which originates from or is destined for the port of Mombasa.
Schools and universities must close again, face to face meetings have been banned, any special passes have been cancelled and a curfew has been introduced between 8 pm and 4 am, seemingly regardless of international air arrivals and departures falling into that period of time.
ATCNews will monitor further developments and keep readers informed.