Kenya Airways resumes flights to DRC as detained staff freed

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 7 May 2024 at 08:09

Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways (KQ), has announced the resumption of its flights to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), following the release of two employees detained by the local authorities.

In a press statement released Monday night, KQ said the detained staffers had been unconditionally freed after more than two weeks in the custody of the Military Intelligence Unit.

"Kenya Airways confirms that military authorities in Kinshasa have unconditionally released our two employees who had been detained since 19 April 2024," Group Managing Director and CEO Allan Kilavuka said.

"We wish to thank all those who worked tirelessly for the release of our innocent colleagues. Special thanks to KQ colleagues who have been on the ground in Kinshasa and those in Nairobi working to secure their release," he added.

The CEO confirmed that KQ’s flights to Kinshasa, which were suspended on April 30 in protest of the arrest and detention of the two employees, will resume on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

"With the necessary ground support in place, we are pleased to announce that Kenya Airways will resume flights to Kinshasa on 8 May 2024. We look forward to serving our valued customers once again," the CEO confirmed.

KQ had earlier announced that the affected members of staff were arrested at the airline’s airport office in Kinshasa over missing customs documentation on valuable cargo that was to be transported on a KQ flight.

Kilavuka lamented that attempts to secure the release of the staffers had proved futile due to the continued disregard of court orders by the local authorities.

The CEO denied any wrongdoing on the part of the airline and staffers, insisting that the cargo under question had not been cleared to be airlifted.

Kilavuka said on Monday that the release of the two employees was made possible by efforts from the Kenyan government led by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, who also doubles up as Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, and the Kenyan embassy in Kinshasa.

"We want to reiterate that our employees are innocent and were only carrying out their duties in strict adherence to the laid-out procedures. We stand by their innocence and will continue to support them," Kilavuka stated.