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Economy

Plane operators face higher costs in shift to JKIA



Planes at the JKIA in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Planes at the JKIA in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Firms with planes exceeding seven tonnes which have been asked to move their operations from Wilson Airport to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) face higher operating costs after it emerged they will be forced to service their aircraft back at Wilson.

The heavier planes are being relocated to JKIA in a move aimed at decongesting the smaller but busy Wilson Airport.

The planes, comprising Dash8-300, Dash 8- 200, Dash 8-100, Fokker 50 and Bombardiers account for a significant part of the fleet used by local air operators in Kenya.

“It will be such that you operate from JKIA, but if the aircraft needs to be maintained you fly back to Wilson, go into the hangar and fix it then you come out of the hanger and fly out. It has a cost, yes but that’s the price of progress,” said Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe in an interview with the Business Daily on Friday.

The directive will take effect at a date yet to be agreed upon by stakeholders in the aviation business in the country.

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Operators have, however, faulted the move, saying JKIA is equally congested and has no space to build hangars, let alone carry out repairs.

Managers of local airlines who spoke to the Business Daily in confidence said the move will result in extra costs.

It will also imply that firms with aircraft above seven tonnes will rely on maintenance facilities owned by other airlines should they opt to service their aircraft at JKIA. Airlines will also be required to acquire new operational offices at JKIA and part with landing fee and other charges to be able to operate effectively there.

“The move does not make sense since JKIA is equally congested. Remember that it’s practically impossible at the moment to get space to build a hangar at JKIA. We foresee a situation where some airlines will fall out of business,” said an air operator in an earlier interview.

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