By Stephen Macharia
Kenya Airways (KQ) has welcomed an African Union (AU) led continental strategy to protect travellers, restore economies and preserve livelihoods in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Since countries began re-opening air travel, the search has been on to balance safety and security, on the one hand, and economic revitalisation, on the other hand.
In August, the AU, in partnership with a consortium of private partners, launched a campaign dubbed “Africa Against Covid-19: Saving Lives, Economies and Livelihoods”. The campaign is a flagship effort of the continental body to intensify the continental approach to curbing the spread in Africa of the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe.
The Africa Task Force for the Novel Coronavirus of the African Union implementing the initiative draws its membership from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The World Health Organization Africa Regional Office and African Union Member States, among other partners.
KQ Director of Sales Julius Thairu said the airline has resumed flights to 33 destinations in Africa, representing 75% of pre-Covid19 destinations even as the company grapples with customer concerns on safety of travel.
Currently, noted Thairu, passenger airplanes operate at a paltry 20% capacity.
“Kenya Airways expresses strong support for the Africa Union and the Africa CDC’s intervention in this critical matter of increasing Travellers’ confidence in air travel in order to restore economic confidence. We find the “Africa CDC Trusted Travel” initiative not only timely but vital to the ongoing continental economic recovery, and Kenya Airways would like to announce its enthusiastic support in making it a success,” Thairu noted.
Thairu also observed that African countries have dufferent, sometimes contradictory, requirements on Covid-19 tests leading to complexities, and even confusion, in complying with the myriads of travel protocols in the region.
“KQ is excited to participate in this initiative. It will boost our campaign seeking to instill confidence in travel,” Thairu said of the campaign.
This AU initiative, which builds on the earlier PanaBIOS initiative, is accessible through a special portal called the Africa CDC Trusted Travel (www.africacdc.org/trusted-travel ).
The Trusted Travel program offers a unified digital platform for airlines, laboratory operators, travellers and member state governments to interact around standardized protocols for verifying the health status of travelers across Africa. The Chairman of Southern Africa’s largest laboratory network, Ampath, Mr. Robbie Buck, expressed his organisation’s strong commitment to the success of the initiative. Likewise, the Chief Operating Officer of one of Africa’s most prominent testing providers, Cerba Lancet, Matthieu Gogue, which has a presence in 14 African countries, was delighted that the new technology platform will ensure that only test results from accredited labs of high integrity shall be allowed for travel purposes due to the new verification platform.