Uganda Airlines cancels some flights amid coronavirus outbreak

RwandAir has also suspended all commercial flights for 30 days, while Kenya's Jambojet has suspended flights to Entebbe and Kigali

Uganda Airlines is suspending flights to regional destinations due to travel restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and a drop in demand.

The recently revived national carrier said Thursday that it will suspend some flights to Nairobi and Bujumbura. Flights to Mogadishu, Mombasa, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar will be cancelled “until further notice,” a statement by the company said.

The decision follows the confirmation of positive cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia, travel restrictions issued by affected countries, and a decline in demand on some routes.

On the Nairobi route, Uganda Airlines said the afternoon flight will be suspended effective from Friday, 20 March until further notice. However, morning and evening flights will remain in operation. It also adjusted the departure time of the morning flight from Entebbe to 10:00, while the morning departure from Nairobi to Entebbe is now 11:45.

Meanwhile, all flights to Mogadishu were suspended “until further notice” starting Thursday, 19 March. This follows a ban on all international flights to Somalia, issued by the country’s transport and civil aviation authority, that starts today.

The complete suspension of flights to Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, and Mombasa goes into effect on Monday, 23 March, the carrier said.

On the Bujumbura route, the return flights on Sunday will be suspended effective Sunday, 22 March. The rest of the weekly flights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will remain in operation. 

“We are offering a waiver for change fees on all fares across our network effective immediately till 30 March 2020,” Uganda Airlines said. “A maximum of two changes will be permitted free of charge.”

In addition, the carrier said that customers affected by the suspensions can change to a flight at no charge. “If there is a difference in the airfare or applicable taxes, due to the reissue or rerouting of the ticket, the additional amount will be collected,”it added.

The changes come two days after Jambojet, the Kenyan low-cost carrier, announced that it is suspending flights to Entebbe and Kigali in Rwanda in response to a drop in demand resulting from the spread of the coronavirus. But, Jambojet said it will continue operating flights to local destinations in Kenya.

RwandAir, Rwanda’s national carrier, will also halt all commercial flights for 30 days starting Friday, 20 March, Rwanda’s health ministry said today. The halt is part of efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Rwanda, where positive cases rose to 11 on Wednesday.

Uganda Airlines currently operates daily flights to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, and Juba. It also operates flights every other day to Mombasa, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, Mogadishu, and Bujumbura.

Uganda is yet to report a positive case of the coronavirus. However, all neighbouring countries, excluding South Sudan, have announced confirmed cases.

*Updated on 19 March to add details from official statement issued by Uganda Airlines