KQ now suspends flights to West Africa over Ebola threat

A Kenya AIrways plane lands at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The threat of Ebola has led the airline to suspend scheduled flights to Liberia and Sierra Leon

KQ has temporarily suspended commercial flight operations to Liberia and Sierra Leone over the Ebola epidemic.

The airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Titus Naikuni said the decision was taken after consultations with Kenya’s Ministry of Health officials.

“We are dependent on expert advice from Ministry of Health and WHO for our continued operations. Following the Ministry of Health statement issued today (Saturday), KQ wishes to confirm that we will comply with the advice to suspend our commercial flight operations to Liberia and Sierra Leone temporarily,” Dr. Naikuni said.

He said following the decision, the carrier will fully refund travelers who had booked with the airline prior to the suspension.

Dr. Naikuni however said the airline will continue operating all its scheduled flights to Nigeria and Ghana. He further said they would cancel scheduled flights to any other destinations should the situation warrant.

On Friday, KQ officials met with various stakeholders among them IATA, WHO, and the Ministry of Health officials to deliberate on whether to suspend air operations into the Ebola affected states of West Africa.

“While none of these institutions have strongly advised that air operations should cease, KQ has religiously followed the advice given by the same to mitigate risks associated with flying there,” said Dr. Naikuni had said then.

He was quoted by Xhinua News Agency as saying no resultant travel ban or advisory had been being or recommended by global health authorities to continue with its scheduled flights to Nigeria, Sierra Leon and Ghana because Ebola had not been declared an epidemic/pandemic.

Dr. Naikuni said KQ ground staff and crew were on high alert to identify passengers who look unwell on check in or on board to facilitate immediate review by medical personnel for assistance.

Most international airlines have stopped scheduled flights into Ebola-hit West African countries of Sierra Leon, Nigeria and Liberia, where an estimated 1,700 Ebola cases reported out of which 1,013 infected people have died.