Thursday, June 04, 2009

Kenya Anger As US Cancels Flights

Kenya anger as US cancels flights

Kenya has protested to the US over the abrupt move to cancel new commercial flights between the two countries, apparently due to security concerns.

A Delta Airlines service from Atlanta to Nairobi, the first direct service between the US and Kenya for 20 years, was called off on Tuesday.

The Kenyan foreign ministry summoned US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger to demand an explanation.

Kenyan officials said US security concerns had previously been addressed.

The US Department for Homeland Security is said to have taken the decision because of "security vulnerabilities" in Nairobi.

Delta had planned to run the new service four times a week from Wednesday until US officials intervened on the eve of its launch.

Mr Ranneberger told AFP news agency: "This is a postponement and we are hoping to get this back on track soon but I cannot confirm when."

But Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said the move would dampen prospects of a recovery of the tourism sector.

"It amounts to a travel advisory against the country [Kenya]," he told Reuters news agency before meeting Mr Ranneberger.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, also blocked Delta flights to Liberia's capital Monrovia, but cleared a new route to Nigeria's capital Abuja.

Kenya has twice been hit by terror attacks and has a long border with Somalia, where Islamist militants accused of links to al-Qaeda are battling a weak, UN-backed government.

After an Israeli-owned hotel was attacked near Mombasa in 2002, the US and UK issued warnings against travel to Kenya which devastated the country's tourism industry.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/06/04 10:50:10 GMT

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