Nairobi 2nd August 2020.
On Saturday 1st August, Foreign Affairs CAS Hon Ababu Namwamba flagged off Kenya Airways flight KQ100 to London as the national carrier resumed international passenger flights after 130 days of lockdown. The same morning KQ also flew to Addis Ababa and Kigali. The Kenya Government closed its airspace and borders on March 28 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the event Hon Namwamba celebrated the return to the skies in what he called living in the new normal. “Its absolutely fantastic to be back in the skies, to be here at this iconic Terminal 1A to witness us all take a critical step in the measures His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced to get the wheels of our economy and social life back in rolling”, CAS Ababu noted. “It has been a trying, queer, unprecedented four months. Since the advent of the aviation industry in the first decade of the 20th century, over 100 years ago, the world has never experienced a total lockdown of the airspace, not even during the two world wars”, he added.
CAS Ababu lauded Kenya Airways for its significant contribution to Kenya’s and Africa’s economic growth by providing the connectivity to support trade and commerce throughout the continent and the World. “At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs we consider KQ to be our embassy sui generis , embassy of a special kind. Kenya Airways, the pride of Africa, is our ambassador extraordinaire, a special spearhead in Kenya’s diplomatic footprinting across the length and breadth of the globe”, he said.
The CAS affirmed government support for Kenya Airways, but challenged the iconic airline to continually and relentlessly raise the bar in standard of service and competitiveness. “Even if you are on the right track, you will be run over if you just sit there! You must keep moving”, he implored, and added, “in the classical spirit of the finest of entrepreneurs, stand out from the crowd. If the competition sits, you stand, if they stand, you stand out, if they stand out, become outstanding, if they become outstanding, be the standard!”, Hon Ababu encouraged the national carrier.
The CAS also allayed fears of strained relations with neighbouring Tanzania over air rights to fly into the country. “I want to make it clear that the relationship between Kenya and Tanzania is immutable, is indispensable, and is permanent with us,” he said, and added, “in the spirit of our afrocentric foreign policy that is well championed by H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta himself, Tanzania is a cherished neighbour and key trading partner as we endeavour to grow and expand intra-Africa trade in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA)”.
KQ CEO Allan Kilavuka said that in addition to health and safety measures put in place onboard, each aircraft has been equipped with powerful HEPA filters which eliminate viruses, germs and allergens within the cabin making it the safest means of travel.
Present at the function were Ms Susie Kitchens, UK’s Deputy High commissioner in Kenya, Mr. Allan Kilavuka, Kenya Airways CEO, Kenya Airways Board Chairman Michael Joseph, Mr, Solomon Kitungu, PS State Department for Transport as well as heads of key agencies, including Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), Kenya Flower Council and KEPSA.