Covid-19: Kenya, UAE in talks to end covid-related flight bans – Minister

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NAIROBI, Jan 25 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Kenya says it will consider allowing Emirati aircraft only after negotiations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to reopen their airspace on Kenyan flights.

The two countries have been embroiled in a feud over a mutual flight ban that Dubai began, citing Covid-19 infections before Nairobi paid back in the same coin.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo said the two sides were holding discussions on the matter but there were no certainties on when flights could resume.

“We are working together to reach an understanding on how we can return to normalcy,” she told a press conference at her office.

“I have no white smoke to report today but I want to tell you that we are active on the matter and it is our hope that we will reach an understanding that will enable them to open up their flight paths and for us to do the same. It is a matter that is under discussion.”

When the UAE imposed a flight ban late last year, it cited Kenya’s then rising Covid-19 cases, which had seen the country report an infection rate of as high as 30 per cent.

There were also complaints about forged PCR certificates among travellers from Kenya, some of whom ended up testing positive on arrival. Now, the positivity rate has dropped to below 10 percent and some of Kenya’s neighbours, like Uganda and Rwanda, who had been on the UAE red list, have since been dropped.

Last week, Kenya extended the ban after the UAE retained Nairobi on the list of those whose flights will not be allowed.

Both countries had daily flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and sometimes Sharjah, frequented by travellers seeking to connect to other parts of the world or into Africa.

The ban means passengers who had planned to fly through the UAE have had to reroute their itineraries. — NNN-AGENCIES