The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged the Kenyan government to use all mechanisms at its disposal to encourage air travel, including reductions in COVID-19 test charges.
“Kenya’s air transport recovery is stalling and requires on-going support. Among the interventions, we are urging Kenya’s government to reduce the cost of PCR tests for travelers, which, at roughly $80 each, is significantly higher than the average in Africa,” said Kamil Al Awadhi,
IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East. “The high cost of tests has become a major deterrent and a drag on the recovery of Kenya’s air transport and tourism sectors.
An alternative solution would be to permit the use of more cost-effective antigen tests,” he added. Airline passenger traffic to, from and within Kenya fell by 52 per cent in June 2021 vs June 2019.
The picture was similar for the first half of 2021, with passenger volumes having declined by 54.2 per cent as compared to the first half of 2019. The next two years should see a stronger recovery as Kenya’s vaccination rate improves and more countries reopen their borders to the country.
IATA listed key priorities to support and sustain the recovery of Kenya’s air transport and tourism sectors such as reducing COVID-19 test fees, noting that expensive charges and inconsistent requirements for PCR tests Musa undermine confidence in air travel.
It noted that affordable tests will prompt more people to travel by air again.
According to IATA’s latest passenger survey, 86 per cent of respondents are willing to get tested. But 70 per cent also believe that the cost of testing is a significant barrier to travel, while 78 per cent believe governments should bear the cost of mandatory testing.
It also noted that as passenger numbers increase in the recovery, digitally managing travel health credentials will be essential to avoid queuing and crowding airports.
The IATA Travel Pass and the African Union’s Trusted Travel Pass are both tools that can help governments efficiently and conveniently verify traveler health credentials. Pre-pandemic, African Union’s Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), IATA noted, was intended to unlock travel within the continent.
Post-pandemic it will provide an even more important economic boost.
Full implementation of SAATM across the continent would generate significant economic benefits for Kenya, namely creating 39,000 new jobs and adding $201 million to the country’s GDP.