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KCAA acts after Wilson Airport mishaps

Fokker 50, 5Y-IZO airplane
An emergency fire truck next to the crash site of a Fokker 50, 5Y-IZO airplane belonging to Silverstone Air at the Wilson Airport. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Local firms with planes exceeding seven tonnes will soon start operating from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Nairobi, in a move aimed at decongesting Wilson Airport following a series of mishaps.

In a notice to companies based at Wilson Airport, industry regulator Kenya Civil Aviation Authority says the firms will not be carrying out repairs and other activities there, in a directive that will take effect at a date yet to be agreed upon.

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 Saturday Nation in confidence said the move will result in extra costs.

They said should KCAA make good its directive to relocate their planes to JKIA, it will mean that airlines with maintenance facilities at Wilson will have to dig deeper into their pockets to set up new facilities to service their planes.

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The move will also imply that firms with aircraft above seven tonnes will rely on maintenance facilities owned by Kenya Airways, Africa Express and Jetlink.

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 be kicked out of business,” said the source.

“The notice was sent to us on Monday. It shows that our planes weighing more than seven tonnes will be shifting their base to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport,” said a another operator who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Wilson Airport has in recent weeks been plagued by incidents involving at least three planes, prompting an investigation by the KCAA.

The latest took place last Tuesday and involved a Safarilink plane carrying 10 passengers, which veered off the runway after a tyre burst, leading to the closure of the airport for 30 minutes.

Another mid-air scare occurred last Monday when an aircraft belonging to low-cost carrier Silverstone Air lost a tyre while taking off from Lodwar Airstrip in Turkana County.

Early this month, another plane operated by the same airline veered off the runway at Wilson Airport.

Some of the planes targeted in this move include Dash o8-300, Dash 8- 200, Dash 8-100, Fokker 50 and Bombardiers.

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