Sunday, 03 December 2023

Kenya and Tanzania respond to KLM's "Unfounded" Claims

The Governments of Kenya and Tanzania have expressed their frustration with KLM, the Dutch national airline, for publishing an advisory warning that spread “unfounded” claims of potential civil unrest in the two African countries.

This has led to travel disruptions and panic among travelers.

On Friday, KLM had warned its customers of potential cancellations of flights due to “civil unrest” between Friday and Monday. 

However, it later amended its alert to refer to an unspecified “local threat in Tanzania”. This sparked outrage among the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments, who called the advisory “baseless, alarmist, unfounded, inconsiderate and insensitive”. Kenya’s transport minister, Kipchumba Murkomen, even threatened to escalate the discussion through diplomatic channels.

Tanzania’s Minister for Works and Transport, Makame Mbarawa, urged travelers to ignore the advisory and stated that there was no truth to KLM’s claims. He added that the advisory had caused unnecessary fear and panic among travelers.

KLM, which is owned by Air France-KLM, apologized to the Kenyan government on Saturday, acknowledging that the advisory was “erroneously also shared with our customers in Kenya”. The airline explained that the advisory was “only meant for our customers in Tanzania”.

However, this apology was not enough for Kenyans on social media, who have been calling for the Nairobi government to take action against the airline. Air France-KLM holds a 7.8% stake in Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways, with the Kenyan government owning 48.9% of the company. This means that the Kenyan government has a significant say in the operations of the national carrier and can take measures to protect its interests.

The situation raises questions about the responsibility of airlines to provide accurate information to their customers and the impact that such false information can have on the reputation of a country. In a world where travel and tourism are significant drivers of economic growth, airlines have a duty to provide accurate information to their customers.

This situation is particularly relevant for Kenya and Tanzania, which rely heavily on tourism as a source of income. The two countries have a rich history and diverse cultural heritage, which attracts millions of tourists every year. However, the spread of false information about civil unrest can have a significant impact on the number of tourists visiting these countries, leading to a decline in revenue for the tourism industry and a negative impact on the local economy.

In conclusion, it is important for airlines to take responsibility for the information they provide to their customers. False information about civil unrest in a country can have a significant impact on the reputation of that country and the tourism industry.

Airlines must take steps to ensure that their information is accurate and not misleading, so as not to cause unnecessary fear and panic among travelers. The Kenyan and Tanzanian governments are right to call out KLM for spreading false information and taking appropriate measures to protect the reputation of their countries.

Source: Aljazeera