The Kenya Airports Authority decided to close Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Monday morning because a Singapore Airlines cargo plane experienced technical difficulties, drawing attention to the airport’s lone runway.
Following a bird incident that resulted in an engine malfunction, the KAA tweeted that the flight failed to take off.
“We would like to confirm that the runway at JKIA has been temporarily closed due to an aborted take-off by a cargo plane that developed technical issues this morning,” the KAA said in a statement.
“Our top priority is the safety of all passengers and we are working closely with the relevant authorities to resolve this situation as quickly and safely as possible. As a result of the runway closure, all incoming and outgoing flights have been temporarily suspended.”
As officials work to restore order, some flights that were planned to land at JKIA, including a Kenya Airways (KQ) plane from New York, have been diverted to Entebbe International Airport.
One of the biggest in the area, the airport acts as the KQ hub and sees roughly 7.8 million people a year.
The one runway at JKIA, the busiest airport in East Africa, was constructed more than 40 years ago. Attempts to enlarge the plant have been met with opposition.
This latest occurrence is only one of several that have resulted in flights at JKIA being diverted to other airports due to runway paralysis brought on by a malfunctioning aircraft.
After a Fly540 jet stalled in 2017, more than 15 flights were diverted from Kenya’s main airport all the way to Dar es Salaam.
In 2018, a Phoenix plane departing from Ukunda, Kwale County, experienced mechanical problems after having problems with its landing gear, leading to a significant delay and the diverting of multiple flights to different airports.
The JKIA runway is a code E runway that can accommodate wide-body aircraft, including the Boeing B747, it is 4,117 meters long, 45 meters wide, and has 15 meters of paved shoulders.
As its regional significance develops, JKIA is struggling to manage more than seven million passengers annually despite being established in the 1970s to handle 2.5 million passengers annually.
The State decided to build a second runway in place of plans to build a Sh69 billion Greenfield Terminal at the airport in 2016, claiming there was no benefit in carrying out the project.
In order to solve the airport’s capacity difficulties, the Green Field Terminal was built.
The project, which was to be developed by a Chinese company over the course of 36 months, was intended to handle the growing number of travelers using Kenya’s main airport.
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