NAIROBI, Kenya

Kenya’s flag carrier Kenya Airways among other budget airlines resumed domestic flights on Wednesday after implementing an array of safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This came after Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta ordered on July 6 the resumption of flights to save the East African nation’s fragile economy chocking under the impact of COVID-19 despite the growing number of infections.

Kenyan Transport Minister James Macharia flagged off the first flights from the Kenyan capital Nairobi heading to the towns of Mombasa and Kisumu in western Kenya.

“The local flights will act as a benchmark of our success, if this is not done correctly then the opportunity to fly internationally may be reversed.”

Most of the passengers were business people and people who were stranded in Nairobi when Kenya imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Joseph Ogolla, a businessman locked in Nairobi told, Anadolu Agency: “We hope that business will come back to work as it used to be. I was locked in the city for three months, I am glad to be heading back home.”

Passengers were cautioned to adhere to strict health and safety protocols that have been put at airports and onboard flights.

Kenya Airways announced that no meals will be served during the flights, noting that attendants’ and passengers’ physical contact will also be limited, and the planes have also been fitted with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration systems to clean the air during flights.

To capitalize the capacity with the domestic flights resuming, Macharia said that there will be no social distancing inside the planes.

The Kenya government hopes the domestic flights will contribute to boost the country’s economy as it undergoes phased reopening with the easing of strict COVID-19 protective measures it implemented.

Kenya is set to start international air travel on Aug 1 which, coupled with domestic flights resumption, will hopefully revive the country’s tourism industry that is at a record low since the country announced its first COVID-19 case in February.

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