Kenya Airways on a spot again
Published on May 3, 2008, 12:00 am
By Brian Adero
Kenya Airways suffered another mishap on the eve of a crucial meeting with the International Air Transport Association (Iata) on its safety standards.
A KQ aircraft failed to take off on Thursday evening at Kisumu airport.
The airline top executives were scheduled to meet Iata officials yesterday.
The incident occurred shortly after KQ Chief Executive Officer, Mr Titus Naikuni, and Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director, Mr George Muhoho, inspected the airport.
Impeccable sources within the national carrier, told The Saturday Standard that their newly acquired aircraft, Embraer ERJ-170-100 LR, failed to take off due to engine failure.
Passengers destined for Nairobi were stranded for hours, as the airliner frantically sought an alternative.
The company engineers struggled to repair the grounded aircraft.
But Naikuni downplayed concerns being raised on the safety of their aircraft.
He also declined to comment on a report carried by The Standard yesterday, which quoted Iata as questioning the company’s safety standards.
“We are committed to our clients worldwide and their safety is top on our agenda,” he said in Kisumu.
Prodded to confirm or deny the claims over their aircraft’s safety, Naikuni said: “We came to Kisumu to inspect the airport. I will not comment on anything else.”
He, however, assured their clients that the national carrier would maintain its flights to the lakeside town.
“We will not pull out of the route as long as the Kisumu airport runway can accommodate us,” he said.
The airline’s public relations consultants had promised to brief the media on the incident but they did not.
Muhoho, who was in Kisumu with Jetlink MD, Captain Ely Aluvale and Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) top officials, announced that a Chinese firm had won a tender to upgrade the airport.
Meanwhile, it emerged that top IATA officials were in a secret meeting in Nairobi to review KQ safety standards. This was after a recent report indicated that the national carrier had had 135 incidents within three months.
The venue remained a top secret. Reliable sources said the officials discussed IOSA (Iata Operational Safety Audit) standard safety regulations, in relation to the KQ report.
An IOSA registered airline like Kenya Airways must maintain strict safety requirements.
The KQ report was leaked to the media two weeks ago.
In the report, KQ aircraft were condemned for inadequate maintenance.
An IATA official said: “We are particularly concerned over the latest report of an accident in Entebbe two weeks ago, less than a month after Kenya Airways released its own safety report to IOSA.”
He said the report, Flight Safety Report, January-March 2008, showed no improvement from last year’s review.
The Saturday Standard learnt that the airline has hired 11 aircraft engineers from France to undertake a thorough maintenance of its 22 aircraft.
The leaked report read in part: “March recorded the highest number of incidents.
“Investigation traced the key contributory factor to the failure to observe safety rules/requirements, unauthorised operations and an inadequate maintenance programme.”
The IATA meeting comes barely two weeks before another organised by the KCAA licensing committee, also expected to discuss KQ’s safety standards.
A city aviation lawyer, Mr Peter Simani, has given KCAA notice that he will raise the matter of “the safety and maintenance profile of Kenya Airways,” at the May 12 meeting.
“As a member of public, who flies periodically with the airline, these media reports have caused me great anxiety. This is more so in view of Kenya Airways’ safety record,” he said.
Simani added: “We want KCAA to initiate an efficient system of reporting on cabin and air safety. The authority should make it compulsory for airlines to report to it incidences.”