JKIA domestic, cargo flights resume later Wednesday

August 7, 2013 11:03 am
The International Arrivals terminal caught fire early Wednesday morning prompting a shutdown at Kenya's gateway Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. PHOTO/ AFP
The International Arrivals terminal caught fire early Wednesday morning prompting a shutdown at Kenya’s gateway Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. PHOTO/ AFP

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7 – Domestic and cargo flights have been cleared for landing and takeoff from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after a massive fire at dawn on Wednesday crippled operations.

Statehouse Communication Secretary Manoah Esipisu said the flights would operate from the cargo terminal which has been found safe by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

KCAA also cleared Unit 3 for use as the international arrival and departure terminal once full operations resume given the international arrival and departure lounges were affected by the 5am fire.

“President Kenyatta wishes to reassure the entire aviation industry, investors, local and international travellers that everything is being done to resume normal operations,” the statement from State House read.

Security agents are yet to ascertain the cause of the fire and President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged Kenyans to avoid speculation and allow investigations to conclude.

The government has also refuted speculation that the fire was somehow connected to the repossession of Duty Free shops from Kamlesh Pattni by the Kenya Airports Authority last week.

“(The) fire had nothing to do with Duty Free Shops,” Government Spokesman Muthui Kariuki said as he unveiled the hotline +254734104747 for updates on the flight restoration efforts.

While conscious of the economic implications the fire portends, President Kenyatta assured Kenyans and those visiting the country that their security is of paramount importance.

And it was to this end that the President and his security chiefs spent the better part of Wednesday morning examining for themselves the damage and threats posed by the early morning inferno.

No fatalities were reported but there were a few casualties including a Kenya Airways passenger and staff member who suffered smoke inhalation.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the national carrier had re-routed five international flights with over a thousand passengers to the Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

Transiting passengers have been put up at hotels with those who landed in Mombasa instead of Nairobi having the option of completing the final leg of their journey by road with 200 already on the way.

Just two days prior to the inferno, thousands of passengers had their flights delayed after the pipeline supplying fuel to the airport malfunctioned.

Wednesday also marks the 15 year anniversary of the terrorist bombings that rocked the American Embassy to Kenya and the fire comes at a time when America has suspended operations in North Africa and the Middle East due to similar concerns.

There was however firmly no suspicion of foul play in Wednesday’s fire.

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