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Kenya Airways diverts flights due to heavy rains, poor visibility

Kenya Airways (KQ) was forced to divert flights at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Saturday night, April 27, due to heavy rains and poor visibility.

In a statement, the national carrier also warned of possible delays in departures from JKIA due to poor visibility caused by the torrential downpour on Saturday night.

“Due to the heavy rains and poor visibility in Nairobi, we have diverted a number of our flights, which may result in longer delays for some of our departures from Nairobi,” KQ said.

The airline apologised for the inconvenience caused but stressed that safety remains its top priority.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers. The safety and well-being of our crew and customers is our top priority,” it added.

The flight disruption came at the same time as the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) announced that all vehicles must use the main gate at JKIA to enter and exit the airport indefinitely.

In a statement on Sunday, April 28, the KAA said that persistent heavy rains in Nairobi had led to flooding at JKIA’s Tower Avenue underpass.

“Normal operations at the airport continue and access to all terminals remains open. However, due to the situation, traffic is expected to be heavier than normal. We recommend that all vehicles use the main entrance to enter and exit the airport until further notice,” the statement read in part.

According to KAA, security teams and police have cordoned off the affected area to ensure the safety of all airport users and staff.

KAA managing director Henry Kegoye said the recent leaks in the airport’s roofs were due to ongoing refurbishment works, with further infrastructure improvements planned by June 2024.

“The works commenced in March 2024 for a period of three (3) months. Over the past few days, heavy rains in Nairobi have adversely affected the temporary drainage infrastructure constructed on site by the contractor, resulting in the current leaks at the terminal,” he said.

“We sincerely appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we work diligently to address this situation.”

Travellers were faced with a dilemma on Friday as some essential services were disrupted by the heavy rain.

Some of the airport’s roofs are also leaking, which has halted operations at Terminal 1C, which serves international airlines Qatar, Lufthansa, Ethiopian, Turkish and Rwanda.

In November 2023, Mr Ogoye said plans to commence rehabilitation works for the facelift of JKIA would start in the current financial year.

The announcement came after a video of a leaking roof at the airport’s check-in area surfaced online, following heavy rains that continued to pound various parts of the country.

“The government has commenced the process of infrastructure development of the facility which includes expansion of the passenger terminal, runway capacity and provision of additional aircraft parking bays from this financial year 2023/2024,” Ogoye said.

Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba said at the time that JKIA would undergo a makeover as the government seeks to improve service delivery and customer experience to make it competitive with other airports in the East African region and beyond.

Mr Murkomen did not immediately reveal how much the improvements would cost the government but said JKIA, as the country’s premier airport, deserved to be on par with the best airports in the world.

At the heart of the planned improvements is a service charter that will bring all agencies operating at JKIA under one roof to provide “seamless” services to passengers.

“We are committed to making JKIA the best airport in the world for our customers,” said CS Murkomen, who was speaking during a meeting with an inter-agency team of senior KAA and JKIA managers, among others, at the facility.

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