Kenya Airways To Resume Flights To Kinshasa After Release Of Employees

Lydia and her Congolese colleague Olivier Lufungula were arrested on Friday, April 19, 2024.

Kenya Airways To Resume Flights To Kinshasa After Release Of Employees
Image of a Kenya Airways aircraft landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi. /FILE

UPDATE: National carrier, Kenya Airways has announced that it will resume flights to Kinshasa on Wednesday, May 8, moments after the government confirmed the release of one of its employees.

The airline in a statement expressed its gratitude to all those who worked tirelessly for the release of the staffers as well as KQ colleagues who had been on the ground in Kinshasa and those in Nairobi working to secure their release.

"We would also like to thank the Government of Kenya, led by the Prime Cabinet Secretary, His Excellency Musalia Mudavadi, 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," the statement read in part, with KQ adding that it will continue cooperating with the investigating agencies and the relevant government entities in both DRC and Kenya.

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

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing'oei has confirmed that a Kenya Airways (KQ) employee who was detained in the Democratic Republic of Congo by authorities in DRC has been released.

Lydia Olando Malomba, the Kenya Airways Station Manager based in Kinshasa, was released from detention. Sing'oei commended the team that worked around the clock to ensure that the KQ staff was freed.

"Deeply grateful to inform that Lydia Mbotela, KQ Manager in DRC, has just been released by the authorities in Kinshasa.

Lydia Malomba poses for a selfie with her family following her release from detention by DRC authorities on May 6, 2024. /KORIR SING'OEI.X

"I commend the team at our Mission: our Military Attaché, the FRO and the Charge d'affaires, for this incredible work of negotiating our compatriot's release," Sing'oei announced on X on Monday, May 6.

Lydia and her Congolese colleague Olivier Lufungula were arrested on Friday, April 19, 2024. The fate of the Congolese staffer is yet to be known by the time of publishing this article.

Sing'oei shared a selfie of Malomba with her family, the latter who earlier rallied the government to intervene, arguing that KQ's efforts alone in pressuring DRC to set free the staffers were not enough.

“We’re really praying, we’ve been in a place of prayer and of course, we really trust in God, but we really need, by the grace of God the government can just come through and help us to find a solution for this so that our mum can come back because she has been devoted in her work,” her daughter Yvonne Mary Maneno, who was overcome with grief, said.

The family was also seeking to have Malomba's husband Olando Maloba allowed to see or speak to her, with her relatives revealing that Olando had been stranded in Kinshasa for 13 days with no help in freeing her.

In Mombasa, Malomba's parents who were disturbed by her detention appealed to the relevant authorities to keep them informed.

Veteran journalist Leonard Mambo Mbotela, who is Malomba's uncle, revealed that Malomba encountered a large volume of cargo headed for an unspecified location, prompting her to question the particulars of the cargo, including its ownership and destination, a matter he believed triggered her detention.

Malomba and Lufungula were reportedly apprehended based on the accusation of missing customs documentation related to valuable cargo scheduled for transport on a KQ flight on April 12, 2024.

Soldiers attached to DR Congo military. /RELIEF WEB