Surfactant-mediated epitaxy (SME) of III-V semiconductors is studied in the case of the GaAs(001) growth using Te as surfactant. To account for the strong surface segregation of Te, a phenomenological exchange mechanism is used. This process explains the reduction of the surface diffusion length evidenced by scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). However, this kinetics effect is observed only for restricted growth conditions: the As surface coverage should be sufficient to allow the exchange process. STM results as well as Monte Carlo simulations clearly show that the group-V element surface coverage plays a key role in the kinetics of SME of III-V semiconductors.