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Kenya set for third security audit in direct US flights plan

JKIA was in February given Category One status after several audit processes by the US Federal Aviation Administration. FILE PHOTO | NMG
JKIA was in February given Category One status after several audit processes by the US Federal Aviation Administration. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya is set to undergo a third security audit by the United Nations aviation agency to determine the safety standards of the country’s major airport.

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), is expected to assess the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in the last week of November to determine Kenya’s capability in safety oversight.

This comes at a time the country stands just two steps to achieving direct flights standards with the United States, with security being a major point of determination.

“The ICAO officials will be in the country in the last week of November to conduct a universal safety oversight audit programme to assess our preparedness in terms of security,” says Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe.

This will be the third time the country will be undergoing the ICAO audit. The first one was held in 2008 where Kenya scored 66 per cent with the second audit in 2013, which saw the country attain 78.4 per cent, according KCAA.

The audit, which is a universal practice, is meant to assess the level of member states’ compliance to the ICAO safety standards.

“The audit is meant to show level of effective implementation of ICAO standards and recommended practices,” said Mr Kibe in an interview with the Business Daily on Tuesday.

This comes as the JKIA prepares for another security audit by the US Transportation Security Administration next month to pave the way for attainment of the Last Point of Departure (LPD) status that would allow Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ to fly directly to the US.

The department was supposed to conduct a security analyses of the JKIA in June to check on its preparedness as the LPD, hence clearing the last hurdle for the start of the long awaited direct flights between the two nations.

So far, Kenya has been granted two of the required four conditions to commence direct flights between Nairobi and the US.

The first one was in February when the country got a Category One status with the second one being the commercial authority to operate, which was granted to the Kenya Airways recently.

The Department of Transportation has given KQ a foreign air carrier permit “to engage in Scheduled and charter foreign air transportation of persons, property, and mail from any point or points behind Kenya, via any point or points in Kenya and any intermediate points, to any point or points in the United States and beyond”.

JKIA was in February given Category One status after several audit processes by the US air agency, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Kenya had earlier failed to meet a number of reviews, delaying earlier commencement date of August 2016.

The key item on the audit was the security measure that Kenya has put in place to guarantee direct flights between the two countries.

Kenya has been working on a number of issues as it sought to attain the Category One status. This include expansion of the airport.

New arrival terminals 1E and 1A are currently operational at the JKIA, marking a major step in the ongoing expansion and modernisation of the region’s busiest airport where passenger arrivals are expected to grow.

The government set aside Sh8.5 billion for the modernisation of JKIA in the current budget. The funds are to be used in expanding terminal 1B, C and D.

Plans are already underway to construct the second runway to enable the airport to handle larger aircrafts as the current one has no capacity.