The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has extended the suspension of all inbound and transit passenger flights from the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) by a further 7 days. The move comes after Dubai filed to lift a similar ban on air travellers from Kenya. The ban however does not affect cargo flights that are normally flown by carriers such as Kenya Airways and Emirates from the UAE into Kenya.

The initial 7 day suspension had been in place since last week Monday, when Kenya suspended all inbound and transit passenger flights from UAE to retaliate a move by Dubai to ban all passenger flights from the country. KCAA later confirmed that Dubai banned all inbound and transit passenger flights from Kenya because of fake COVID-19 negative certificates. The regulator established that travellers from Nairobi were testing positive for COVID-19 after arrival in Dubai, despite carrying negative test results.

Speaking on the flights’ suspension extension, KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe said, “I have corresponded with the director-general of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and I’m waiting for his feedback before the close of business today (Monday). If they don’t respond before 5 p.m. today (Monday), I will extend Dubai–Nairobi passenger flight suspension effective midnight.”

The Ministry of Health has launched a probe on the matter with a view to bringing to book health officials involved in the fraud that has now cost Kenya millions of shillings in lost flight revenues. The directive comes as a blow to Kenya Airways, which had seen an increase in bookings on this route occasioned by the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020 exhibition. Kenya Airways suspended passenger flights to Dubai last month in line with the directive. The national carrier said it would refund passengers who had booked tickets for travel within the suspension period. The travellers will also be allowed to rebook when flights resume.