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Lobby wants local air travel rules eased

NEWS
By Macharia Kamau | August 20th 2021
Passengers disembark at the Manda Airport in Lamu County on a flight from Nairobi via Mombasa. [Robert Menza, Standard]

Local airlines want the government to relax some of the Covid-19 requirements on domestic air travellers, arguing that it will help the travel sector to recover.

The Kenya Association of Air Operators (Kaao) specifically wants Kenyans using air travel to different airports and airstrips across the country to be treated the same way as those using rail and road transport.

Domestic air travellers are expected to lodge their information the same way as international visitors to help the fight against Covid-19.

Kaao, a lobby for local carriers, says the process is cumbersome and is causing snarl-ups at airports, and also counterproductive as travellers using other modes of transport are not subjected to similar requirements.

The government introduced a mobile travel locator app, named Jitenge, last year for international travellers after the country reopened its airspace.

Visitors are required to download the app and self-register to enable the Health ministry to monitor foreigners and Kenyans returning to the country, with the aim of tracking those who may develop Covid-19 symptoms.

On June 18, the ministry expanded the use of Jitenge to include domestic travel.

Kaao executive secretary Eutychus Waithaka said the use of Jitenge among domestic air travellers has also led to slow clearance at airports as officials use both the app and a physical form.

“It is our considered view that Jitenge is only effective as a contact tracing mechanism if it is applied on everyone travelling around Kenya and not just for air transport passengers as this is clearly discriminatory,” he said.

Trains and public service vehicles are now operating at full capacity, he said, ferrying much larger numbers than air transport and their passengers are not required to use the app.

Waithaka said that while the app may be working for people entering Kenya, it is not working for Kenyans moving from one town to another.

This is because it is only applied on domestic air travellers, a small fraction of local travellers when compared to passengers using road and rail. 

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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