Africa slowly opening to air travel after COVID-19 lockdowns

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A health worker at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, checking the temperature of a traveler. African countries are slowly opening up their skies to international travel following COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo: Reuters

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania are among African countries that have relaxed restrictions on international air travel into their countries, while, Malawi, Namibia and Nigeria this week said they will be opening up soon. Nigeria was set to resume international flights tomorrow (Aug. 29) but has delayed that action by another week.

The closure of Africa’s airspace has had an impact on the tourism industry as well as members of the African diaspora that need to travel to the continent for family emergencies. International tourism pumps $61 billion into the Africa economy annually.

It is not clear yet whether tourists have the confidence to travel as coronavirus pandemic fears persist. A check on most US airlines’ websites in the last two weeks shows they have started accepting travel bookings to various African cities. Delta has a notice on its website telling customers its waiving change fees. Ethiopian Airiness is also offering flights from the United States while Kenya Airways announced they would resume their non-stop Nairobi-New York flight in October.

“The measures that we have taken will ensure that we completely limit the risk of transmission of this virus,” said Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka earlier this month as his airline got ready to fly again.

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