National carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has reduced its flights to New York City, in the United States of America, to one weekly citing low demand.
KQ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Allan Kilavuka said the airline was forced to scale down frequency from the planned two weekly flights after demand failed to grow since resuming direct flights to and from New York in November 2020.
He attributed the low demand in the air transport sector to strict Covid-19 protocols as some countries have been forced to reinstate tougher measures in response to the second wave of the virus.
Passengers, the KQ boss said, had scaled down their travel plans to avoid strict measures at ports of entry.
“As Kenya Airways, we have responded to this by reducing capacity deployment in some key markets such as the UK and the US. We have reduced our operations to JFK from the planned twice weekly to once weekly, and we continue to monitor the situation,” said Kilavuka.
In the US for instance, international travellers aged two and older are required to present a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel or proof of recovery from Covid-19 before they are allowed to enter the country.
KQ resumed direct flights to and from New York on November 29, 2020, following the lifting of a ban on international passenger flights by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The airline had a month earlier suspended resumption of flights to the US citing increased cancellation of flight bookings.
“We regret to announce that due to increased cancellations of flight bookings to New York City, we have pushed back the resumption of our service to this destination to 29th November,” KQ said in a statement dated October 31.
The airline, which launched direct flights to and from the US in October 2018, was operating five flights to New York before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In January this year, KQ was also forced to suspend its services to France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport and the Netherlands Schipol Airport citing low demand on the route.
“The temporary suspension is due to the new COVID-19 regulations in Europe that have resulted in depressed demand,” the airline said.
The airline expects to resume regular services to France on March 3 and to the Netherlands on March 7.
As part of efforts to increase its revenue amid the Covid-19 pandemic, KQ this month made history by repurposing Boeing 787 Dreamliner into a cargo plane.
KQ announced that the conversion would go a long way into adapting to the “new normal”, which would see the carrier turn around from loss-making.