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Thursday, May 27, 2021 – Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia revealed details of an offensive letter sent by the Director-General of the Civil Aviation of Dubai which sparked a fresh diplomatic row with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Macharia detailed that the letter was sent with the aim of coercing the Kenyan government to increase flights to Dubai.

“We got a letter recently from the Director-General, Civil Aviation of Dubai and not one written by the UAE minister.”

“They told us not to fly the aircraft that has a capacity of more than 220 seats to Dubai but they fly into Kenya aircraft with more than 400 seats.”

“When we receive this kind of letters, they send a wrong message in terms of tactics the airline is using and shows that they do not respect Kenya,” Macharia stated.

The CS also noted that the government’s primary mandate is to protect the interests of the aviation industry especially at a time when the industry has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Giving them more flight capacity means they will get 90 percent of business between Nairobi and Dubai while Kenya Airways (KQ) gets 10 percent. This is not tenable,” Macharia added.

According to the CS, UAE has 28 weekly flights, inclusive of Etihad and Air Arabia Airlines, as opposed to Kenya’s seven weekly flights.

He added that the two airlines have a combined capacity of 15,400 as opposed to KQ’s 5,510, which would be a detriment to the airline industry if he added flights to the Arab city.

“Every airline is struggling. Giving them additional frequencies will compound a difficult situation. We shall not agree even if they continue lobbying because this is not tenable,” he affirmed.

This is not the first time Dubai and Kenya have been caught in a diplomatic row. 

An incident in 2010 saw four members of Dubai’s royal family detained and deported back to Dubai amid claims that they were terror suspects. 

Dubai then plotted a counter move which saw the city impose restrictions requiring all Kenyans entering UAE to present proof of higher education in order to acquire a VISA. 

The move saw the two nations later hold talks in order to come to an amicable agreement.


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