Friday, December 1, 2023

Kenya Airways shining in extremis

Leonard Khafafa - Public Policy Analyst

Yesterday’s incident involving a Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi to London was unnerving to both passengers and crew. But it brings to the fore the seriousness with which safety and security are taken both at the national carrier and the country at large. Kenya, having been victim of a terrorist attack 25 years ago, puts a premium on the safety of its citizens and visitors.

KQ 100 flying from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to London Heathrow was diverted to Stansted airport after reports of “some suspicious people on board.” According to a statement from the airline, “this threat has since been established to have low credibility.” From the foregoing, a number of observations come to mind.

The first is that scares of this sort are fairly regular occurrences in the global aviation industry. According to Essex News, in April this year, a woman sparked a security scare on a flight to Amsterdam with a “bomb hoax” forcing the runway at Stansted Airport to be closed temporarily. An article in The Sun newspaper says in October last year, another suspected bomb hoax at the same airport led to the arrest of three people after armed cops stormed an EasyJet flight.

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Second, Kenya Airways’ safety and security record remains impeccable. Had the threats onboard yesterday’s flight had any merit, no doubt they would have been intercepted at any of the rigorous security checks that are always conducted by both airline staff and officers from the Kenya Airports Authority. It is not for nothing that JKIA has Category 1 status meaning that all carriers in the country are licensed and overseen in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.

Third, Kenya Airways crew acted with utmost professionalism from the instant they were notified of the threat to the moment it was actually diffused. They observed all safety and security precautions ensuring that at the end of the incident, no harm was visited on both crew and passengers. This level of professional conduct speaks to the great quality of training that KQ invests in so that emergency situations are handled with a calm and poise that is reassuring to passengers.

Yesterday’s incident was a clear demonstration of the indomitable Kenyan spirit that responds to difficult situations with grace. Whilst no doubt, diversions such as those that happened cost the airline a pretty penny, resultant expenses incurred are the least of considerations when putting the safety of passengers first. Kudos KQ. You have done us proud!

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