Runway maintenance leaves hundreds stranded in Mombasa
Hundreds of passengers were Sunday stranded at the Moi International Airport (MIA), Mombasa while four local and international flights were diverted or delayed following the closure of the runway.
The runway which the airport management said was the only one was closed for four hours.
Among the affected was a Turkish flight which was diverted to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania while a Thomson flight diverted to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.
The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) management said the closure was routine exercise to allow repairs to be undertaken on the runway.
The airports general manager Mr Yatich Kangogo who confirmed the closure said the facility was closed between 5.30am and 9.30 am.
Two KQ flights were delayed for four hours from taking off from MIA to JKIA, said Mr Kangogo. By 9.15am, they were scheduled to fly out having stayed at the airport from 5am, he said.
Numerous callers to our newsroom complained over the delay and accused the KAA authorities of not informing the passengers and travel agents in advance.
“We were caught unawares. The delays and diversions caused a lot of inconveniences to our programmes. We tried to take off from MIA only to be told we could not,” complained a passenger bound travelling Nairobi.
An agent who went to pick passengers from Nairobi to transfer them to a hotel complained that there had not been any communication from KQ or KAA.
“I am simply in the darkness. I have waited here for the flight from Jomo Kenyatta to land in vain. What is happening?” asked the agent who declined to be identified.
But Mr Kangogo reiterated that those who were complaining did not know what it means to put security first and had better bear with the situation.
“For us, security of our clients comes first. The repairs of the runway are meant to boost security of the aircraft and subsequently, passengers,” he said.
He said that the runway repairs begun three months ago and would continue until the end of July. Given the weighty issue of security, the four hours delay was justified, said Mr Kangogo.
“But we have re-opened the runway just a few minutes ago and everything is back to normal. Aircrafts are now flying as usual,” he said.