Airlines operate in macro socio-economic environments whose stability can sometimes be compromised, even by mistake. This was the case with Dutch national carrier, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which erroneously published two travel advisories warning of potential travel disruptions in Kenya and Tanzania.
Kenya and Tanzania infuriated with KLM
It is a standard practice for airlines worldwide to publish travel advisories to inform passengers of potential flight disruptions in specific countries. Typically, airlines also briefly explain the reason behind the possible flight delay or cancelation affecting the customers’ journey.
However, the Dutch flag carrier KLM has threatened its diplomatic relationship with Kenya and Tanzania after publishing two travel advisories on its website on the groundsof purported civil unrest in the two African countries.
In the two statements, the Dutch airline advised of potential travel disruptions, including flight delays and cancelations, between Friday, January 27th, and Monday, January 30th, for those flying from Amsterdam to destinations in Kenya and Tanzania.
KLM Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner PH-BKA
Photo: Vincenzo Pace I Simple Flying
However, shortly after publishing the two advisories, the airline amended them, eliminating any reference to Kenya and leaving a comment about an unspecific local threat in Tanzania. Nonetheless, the news had already reached the governments of the two African countries, who have reacted angrily to the mistake made by the Dutch carrier.
The reaction of the African governments
Kenya and Tanzania are two popular tourist destinations. In 2019, the former welcomed approximately two million tourists, while the latter received 1.5 million visitors. The two countries’ governments openly denied KLM’s unfounded travel advisories, telling passengers to ignore them.
Kenya’s Transport Minister, Kipchumba Murkomen, released a statement on Saturday stating that he had already reached out to the airline’s country representative in Kenya, as well as officially registering his protest with the airline.
In the statement, Mr Murkomen mentions the good diplomatic relationships between the Netherlands and Kenya, stating that KLM is a highly regarded company in the country. For this reason, Kenya’s Transport Minister used the word “shocked” when describing the reaction of the government and the whole country in front of the airline’s untruthful message.
Notably, Mr Murkomen criticized KLM’s lack of proof for the alleged civil unrest and the lack of interest in the damage that the travel advisory might have caused to the country’s economy and reputation. Given the impact of KLM’s act, Minster Murkomen stated he is determined to undertake a diplomatic mission to ensure the same will not occur again.
From the other side, Tanzania’s government also had a say in the matter, with the Minister of Works and Transport, Makame Mbarawa, stating there is no truth in what KLM claimed in its travel advisory. Besides not being sustained by proof, Minister Mbarawa underlined how KLM’s statement caused unnecessary fear and panic in the population.
KLM Boeing 777-200(ER) (4) (1)
Photo: Vincenzo Pace I Simple Flying
After recognizing its error, KLM reached out to the Kenyan government on Saturday to apologize. The airline stated its travel advisory for Kenya should have never been published, as it was only meant for passengers traveling to Tanzania.
Simple Flying reached out to KLM for further comment, and the airline commented as follows:
“We apologized to the Tanzanian government for not using the correct phrase in our explanation of why our crew is unable to stop over in Dar es Salaam. KLM was informed about a specific local threat, and therefore made the decision to create the rebook policy.
“We wrongly included Kenya in the rebook policy. This was a mistake that we have corrected”
Source: simple flying