IT IS NOW OR NEVER FOR JKIA AS DECISION NEARS BY FAA OVER CAT 1 STATUS
(Posted 27th May 2016)
An audit is underway at the moment by FAA inspectors to determine if the various construction activities and the subsequent separation of incoming and outgoing passengers, among a series of other criteria, will be sufficient to finally grant Kenya the long awaited Category 1 status.
It is the lack of such an approval which has in the past made direct flights between the United States and Kenya impossible, thwarting efforts by national airline Kenya Airways to launch long haul nonstop flights to the US and tap into the huge tourism and trade markets which exist.
High on the agenda was also the amendment bill for the existing aviation legislation, which was also seen as not meeting the latest global standards of independent oversight and intense efforts are underway to have the new bill passed in parliament and then assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta to tick the last remaining boxes.
In particular the new arrival sections in Terminal 1A and Terminal 1E have finally separated the passenger streams meeting inside the terminal without separation and tourism and aviation circles in Kenya are now hopeful that the billions of Kenya Shillings spent on upgrading Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will lead to the launch of flights to the US before the end of the year.
Other measures taken included the strengthening of perimeter security and surveillance and monitoring of the airport areal, all aimed to get JKIA into the 21st century vis a vis aviation security.
Americans continue to form the largest segment of foreign visitors coming to Kenya for safaris and are presently inconvenienced by at times long stopovers in Europe before being able to connect to Nairobi.
The anticipated approvals as a Cat 1 airport will in particular be a shot in the arm for national carrier Kenya Airways which would benefit from the added demand for seats from Nairobi to the US and back but also beyond through their regional and African network.
Watch this space for news the moment a decision is taken by the FAA.