Rwanda suspends flights amid Covid-19 outbreak

Thursday March 19 2020



A RwandAir jet. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A RwandAir jet. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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Rwanda has suspended all arriving and departing commercial passenger flights for 30 days beginning midnight on Friday, in a bid to curb the increasing cases of coronavirus infections in the country.

The suspension also affects national carrier RwandAir, but it will not affect cargo and emergency flights.

The decision to suspend air travel comes after Rwanda confirmed an additional three coronavirus cases on Wednesday—the fourth time in a row that the country has reported infections since last Saturday.

Initially, RwandAir had suspended flights to and from China–the first country to be hit by Covid-19–Israel and India, a decision that was taken few days before infections were reported in Rwanda.

On Tuesday, Kenya’s budget airline Jambojet suspended all its scheduled flights to and from Kigali and Entebbe in Uganda, citing a sharp decline in the number travellers.

Kenya's national carrier, Kenya Airways, also suspended flights to some coronavirus-hit countries.

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Africa's aviation industry is expected to experience significant losses due to restrictions on air travel during the coronavirus epidemic, as many airlines have been financially struggling, according to the African Airline Association (AFRAA).

“The financial situation for African airlines was not good to begin with. According to figures from 2018, African airlines were losing on average $1.09 per passenger. It is really a crisis for airlines now,” AFRAA’s Secretary-General Abdérahmane Berthé said last week.

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