Kenya Airways (KQ) has suspended flights to Guangzhou, China, over the Coronavirus epidemic.
The move comes just days after KQ said it was monitoring the situation.
In a statement, the airline said it had done so after consultations with the government through the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs.
“Further to our prior communication, we have temporarily suspended flights to and from Guangzhou effective January 31 until further notice. We, however, clarify that our service to Bangkok, Thailand, remains operational,” the airline said Friday morning.
The move comes barely hours after its workers, through the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu), threatened to lead its members in boycotting work if KQ doesn’t stop flying to China in the next few days.
“We call upon the management of KQ to exhibit some element of human sensitivity and immediately suspend all flights to and from China to avoid exposing its employees to the risk of contracting the virus,” said Secretary-General Moss Ndiema in a statement on Thursday.
“If the management does not heed our call to suspend the flights, we shall have no alternative but to advise our members to stay away from operating the flights forthwith.”
On Wednesday, KQ said that it will not suspend its flights to the Asian country following the outbreak of the deadly virus. This came even as other airlines led by British Airways had done so.
The Kenya national carrier, known through its code name KQ, instead said that it was closely ”monitoring” the situation before it takes any steps.
“We are monitoring this on a very regular basis, as frequently as every one hour. We will make a decision in collaboration with the government on if and when we should suspend the flight,” KQ acting chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka said.
Kenya Airways, which operates the Nairobi-Guangzhou route thrice a week via Bangkok, was in the news on Tuesday after one of its passengers from China was quarantined at Kenyatta National Hospital over suspicions that he had contracted the virus.
“This is very important to us, not just for the China route but an entire network. It is a global issue and airlines are looking at it very seriously. We have taken precautionary measures right from boarding, to ensure that we do not allow on board anyone who hasn’t been cleared by the port health bureau of China. So anyone from Wuhan city in China will not be allowed on our flights,” Mr Kilavuka had said.
“On top of that, we are sterilising our aircraft while our crew use protective gear on the flight and off the flight while in China. We are in close collaboration with the port health authorities at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Guangzhou where we fly to as we seek to protect our passengers.”