Kenya Airways Suspends Flights To Kinshasa As DRC Row Worsens

This comes amid the continued detention of two of KQ's employees by the Military Intelligence Unit in Kinshasa.

Kenya Airways Suspends Flights To Kinshasa As DRC Row Worsens
A Kenya Airways plane at an airport. /KENYA AIRWAYS

National carrier, Kenya Airways has suspended all flights to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In a statement, KQ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Allan Kilavuka explained that the airline is unable to support its flights without personnel effectively.

This comes amid the continued detention of two of KQ's employees by the Military Intelligence Unit in Kinshasa.

"As a result, we reached a difficult decision to suspend flights to Kinshasa effective April 30, 2024, until we can effectively support these flights. 

N'Djili International Airport in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). /UAS INTERNATIONAL TRIP SUPPORT

"The continued detention of our employees has made it difficult for us to supervise our operations in Kinshasa, which include customer service, ground handling, cargo activities, and generally ensuring safe, secure, and efficient operations," the airline stated in part.

Kilavuka also asked that the detained KQ staff be treated humanely and respectfully during "this unlawful detention."

The airline apologized to its customers for any inconvenience caused by this situation, further assuring them that their safety and well-being, as well as that of KQ staff, is its number one priority.

"Affected customers are advised to contact our customer excellence team at +254 711 024 747, WhatsApp at +254 705 474 747, or email [email protected] 

"We continue cooperating with the investigating agencies and the relevant Government entities in both DRC and Kenya to ensure this matter is resolved," the statement added.

KQ pleaded with the DRC military court's direction that the employees be released to allow due process to be respected so that they can return to their families and everyday lives without harassment. 

The decision is seen as a retaliation by the airline after the DRC's Military Intelligence Unit known as Detection Militaire des Activities Anti Patrie (DEMIAP) refused to release the two staffers.

Kenya Airways had reported on Friday, April 26 that during their arrest, their phones were seized, and all access to them was denied. On April 23, 2024, the Kenyan embassy officials and a few KQ staff were allowed to visit them but only for a few minutes.

"The reason for their arrest was alleged to be missing custom documentation on valuable cargo that was to be transported on a KQ flight on April 12th, 2024. However, we wish to state that the said cargo was not uplifted or accepted by KQ due to incomplete documentation," Kilavuka stated in part.

KQ added that on April 24, 2024, it applied to the military court for the two to be released unconditionally.

The court heard the matter on April 25, 2024, and granted KQ's request that the two staff members be released to allow due process. 

Despite the court orders, the military intelligence unit was accused of still holding them incommunicado, yet the staffers were civilians being held in a military intelligence facility.

Condemning the events, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing’Oei revealed that Kenya took great exception to the arrest and detention of its nationals lawfully carrying out commercial activities in the DRC.

"Our Mission in Kinshasa is engaging actively on the matter. We shall update the public on developments touching on this issue. The government reaffirms its commitment to protecting our citizens working abroad," he said in a statement.

Soldiers attached to the DR Congo military. /RELIEF WEB