According to industry sources in Nairobi, the audit carried out by FAA inspectors last month about the suitability of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to be elevated to the Category 1 status, was successful.
While meeting all the stringent standards, however the FAA at this stage did not yet approve JKIA for direct flights to the United States after suddenly adding yet another requirement.
‘They asked to bring a regulatory change forward to March next year. This change was scheduled for later in 2017 but now they want it earlier. Between you and me, they could have specified that some time ago to be ready because Kenya has otherwise met all other requirement. Therefore, I am personally concluding that they were just looking for another reason to further delay us. I am questioning if all the other airports from where flights to the US leave Africa, have met all these standards or if it is just us in Kenya which is being jerked around by these guys?’ ranted a periodic source close to the regulatory body while passing the information late yesterday.
Kenya has invested massively in new infrastructure at the international airport in Nairobi to meet all the physical requirements of, among other issues, passenger separation and in addition put added legislative and regulatory measures in place as demanded by the FAA.
Why this latest demand was not communicated earlier remains open to speculation, but it only opens the door to rumors of ill will against Kenya by the US Federal Aviation Administration or a campaign of deliberate delays to halt direct flights for as long as can be engineered.
Meanwhile though, the US has overtaken Britain in arrival numbers to Kenya and risen to the top of the rankings, despite of the FAA preventing direct flights between the two countries and forcing travelers to use an intermediate waypoint along the route, in Europe or the Gulf, to reach Nairobi.
Another audit, it was learned, has been scheduled for April 2017 though it would come as no surprise if at the stage yet more issues would be raised to keep Kenya out of the league of countries able to offer direct flights to the US.