NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 6 – Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was closed to air traffic indefinitely on Wednesday morning, after a plane veered off the run way and got stuck while landing.
The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) said EgyptAir 849 was carrying 123 passengers from Cairo when the mishap occurred at 3.36am, but all of them were evacuated to safety.
“All passengers and crew were safely evacuated to the terminal building even as all emergencies operations at the airport including fire and rescue were activated immediately,” a statement from KAA said.
As a result, flights were diverted to Mombasa and Entebbe, KAA said.
Most airlines operating at the JKIA – including Kenya Airways warned of major anticipated delays for most of the day.
“All Kenya Airways morning arrivals have been diverted to Mombasa, Entebbe and Dar-es-Salaam,” a statement from the airline said, adding “All departing flights from JKIA Nairobi have been delayed indefinitely.”
JKIA is the largest airport in the region and is the key hub for international flights.
A schedule released by Kenya Airways said flights diverted to Mombasa international airport included, KQ311 from Dubai, KQ203 ex-Mumbai, KQ101 ex-London, KQ466 ex-Bujumbura and Kigali, KQ331 ex-Jeddah, KQ521 ex-Dakar and Abidjan plus KQ765 from Johannesburg.
Those diverted to Entebbe international Airport in Uganda includes, KQ542 ex-Lagos and Cotonou, KQ321 ex-Cairo and Khartoum, KQ511 from Freetown and Accra, and KQ117 from Amsterdam.
KQ 221 from New Delhi was diverted to Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar-es-Salaam.
Kenya Airways said its station offices in Entebbe, Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam had arranged for special handling of passengers affected by the disruptions.
“We may also experience resultant delays and cancellations as a result of this disruption and appeal to our affected passengers for understanding and patience during this period,” Kenya Airways said in a statement posted on its official Facebook page and Twitter handle.
The Kenya Airports Authority has not indicated how long it will take to open the airport.
“KAA will communicate when the airport will be opened as soon as the obstacle is removed and the go ahead is given by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority,” its statement said.