Mombasa runway closure delays flights


The closure of the single runway at Mombasa’s Moi International Airport for several hours yesterday morning, information received speaks of the time between 05.30 a.m. to at least 09.30 a.m., in other words for 4 hours, appears to have caught several airlines by surprise. Flights out of Mombasa were delayed and flights into Mombasa diverted, as aircraft approaching MBA were told that they could not land and had to seek alternative landing points while awaiting to complete their journeys later on. Flights from Nairobi to Mombasa in the early morning too were delayed, prompting passengers to complain about the affected airlines’ alleged unreliability, only to later on learn that the fault lay with KAA.

The Moi International Airport manager, one Kangogo, was subject to ridicule when he, in a belated attempt to mitigate the damage done, tried to cite ‘safety of passengers as their main concern.

No information could be received to confirm that a formal NOTAM, aka Notice to Airmen, a commonly used public information system informing airlines and cockpit crews of such closures, was in fact posted in advance as it should have been, though there are strong indications that if at all one was published it happened belatedly.

Another shining example of KAA incompetence. How can flights enroute to Mombasa be told to divert? If that information had been published as it is required, well in advance, the airlines would have made other arrangements and informed passengers accordingly. Now we are being blamed for another mess created by KAA. I know of at least two flights which had to be diverted to Nairobi and Kilimanjaro. Now if they are from long haul, that means the crews will run out of maximum permitted duty hours and might require a minimum rest time as dictated by their respective regulations. Such a thing means a long delay for passengers getting to their destination and those joining such flights in Mombasa would be delayed just as long. We have said it again and again, KAA needs to professionalize but you can see the result. They do not think with their brains and for sure do not respect airlinesranted a regular aviation source from Nairobi when asked to comment on this latest mishap by KAA. Officials from affected airlines opted not to comment in time for this article being posted, their silence speaking volumes though as to what they think of their supposed partners KAA and their performance as custodians of Kenya’s aviation infrastructure.

KAA has in recent times been under scrutiny over actions taken by their current and previous CEO’s, namely the massive demolition of properties on allegedly disputed land, in the face of a court order preventing any such action, while also facing intense criticism over the ongoing delays in completion of Terminal 4 at JKIA in Nairobi, the rollout of the 650+ million US Dollars Project Greenfield, repeated past landing light failures in Nairobi and corruption allegations presently being investigated.

Kenya’s future as a tourist destination, Kenya’s future as an exporting country for horticultural, flower, fish and meat exports depend almost entirely on functioning airports. Project Greenfield is due to expand our main airport in Nairobi with a second runway and literally doubling terminal capacity, even after T4 has been opened.

This requires competent management of our aviation infrastructure but such events like yesterday continue to cast doubts over KAA’s professionalism. From what I gather no one knew about the runway closure in Mombasa, for whatever reason that was done, maintenance or other, until it happened. This is a big failure in communications. Everyone has a mobile phone so calling this in to the airlines would have been a very simple thing but instead, they just close and let others face the music as they switch off their phones saying they have gone to church. Very bad behaviour!’ said a tour operator from Mombasa who wrote in saying their company had to deal with upset passengers ready to leave from Kenya and only after check in being told that their inbound aircraft had been diverted due to these problems and in the cases of others, their flights could not take off until after 09.30 a.m. Watch this space for regular and breaking news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation scene.

One Response

  1. Must have been a huge financial loss to the airlines, especially those that had to divert to Kilimanjaro, due to additional expenses on fuel, etc. Like you say, this inconvenience would have been avoided with a proper NOTAM published well in advance.

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