MOMBASA KENYA: A United States aviation agency has designated Kenya as a hostile region for US aircraft in its latest advisory and prohibition notice.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notice also lists Ethiopia on its full prohibition list and restates Somalia as a no-go area for US aircraft. Analysts say the latest classification is a major blow to efforts by Kenya to convince the US to allow direct flights from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to the USA.
Only last week, Kenya Airports Authority installed security screening gadgets, passenger handling and general security with the aim of getting the nod from FAA.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Eng Michael Kamau said the US Transportation Security Administration is currently doing audits at JKIA in anticipation for winning direct flights to the US.
Aviation news magazine Etn Global Travel News in a report dated July 20 indicates that recent credible information indicates a potential near–term terrorist attack against the US and Western interests in Kenya.
Advisories suggest that attackers based in Kenya could use Man Portable Air Defence Systems to bring down aircraft.
The following details were extracted from the FAA notice dated July 18, “Flight operations are prohibited in Ethiopian airspace north of 12 degrees latitude.
FAA also warns that Ethiopian forces may fire upon aircraft crossing into Ethiopian airspace from north-eastern Kenya.”
It should be recalled that there was an attempt to shoot down an Israeli tourist charter aircraft on November 28 2002 with two shoulder fired (Surface to Air Missiles ) SAM’s while taking off from Mombasa’s Moi international airport when at the same time an Israeli owned hotel, Paradise Resort in Kikambala, Kilifi was subjected to a suicide bombing.
No similar attempts have been reported since and airport perimeter security has been significantly improved and strengthened at Kenya’s international airports.
Recently, CS Kamau said he will be meeting senior US transport officials, during which he said he would pursue the issue of direct flights to US.