Kenya Airways says to resume flights to Kinshasa after staff freedMon, 06 May 2024 20:40:31 GMT

Kenya Airways on Monday said it will resume flights to Kinshasa after military authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo released two of its employees who were detained more than two weeks ago.The arrest of the staff was described as “unlawful” by the Kenyan flag carrier, which had announced on April 29 that it would be suspending flights to the DRC capital the following day.”Kenya Airways confirms that military authorities in Kinshasa have unconditionally released our two employees who had been detained since 19 April 2024,” Kenya Airways (KQ) said in a statement.The pair, who work at the airline’s office in Kinshasa, were arrested by a military intelligence unit allegedly because of missing customs documentation on “valuable cargo”, KQ had said.”We want to reiterate that our employees are innocent and were only carrying out their duties in strict adherence to laid-out procedures. We stand by their innocences and will continue to support them,” the airline said in Monday’s statement.”With the necessary ground support in place, we are pleased to announce that Kenya Airways will resume flights to Kinshasa on 8 May 2024.”Earlier, the Kenyan government had announced the release of one of the employees.”Deeply grateful to inform that Lydia Mbotela, KQ Manager in DRC, has just been released by the authorities in Kinshasa,” Korir Sing’oei, the country’s principal secretary for foreign affairs, said on X, formerly Twitter.The airline had described the arrests as “unlawful detention” and as “harassment targeting Kenya Airways’ business”, while the head of a powerful parliamentary committee called it a breach of diplomatic rules.The DRC government has not commented on the case.KQ had said the employees were held incommunicado in a military facility until April 23, when embassy officials and a KQ team were allowed to visit them.Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka had said the cargo in question, whose contents were not specified, had not been accepted by KQ because of incomplete documentation.This cargo “was still in the baggage section being cleared by customs when the security team arrived and alleged that KQ was transporting goods without customs clearance”.”All efforts to explain to the military officers that KQ had not accepted the cargo because of incomplete documentation proved futile.”Relations between the two nations have been generally cordial, with security and trade agreements, while Kenya’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta has acted as mediator in the conflict in eastern DRC.KQ was founded in 1977 following the demise of East African Airways and now flies to 45 destinations, 37 of them in Africa