JKIA runway closed temporarily over undisclosed aircraft incident

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The incident has reignited a debate on why the country's largest aviation facility has been served by a single runway since its establishment in the 1970s

The runway at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi was temporarily closed on Tuesday following an undisclosed aircraft incident.

Confirming the closure in a statement, the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) said no injuries were reported.

"Passenger notice; an aircraft incident has caused runway closure at JKIA. No injuries have been reported. Removal of the aircraft is underway. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and will provide updates shortly," KAA said.

The KAA later said the issue had been resolved and that operations had resumed.

The incident reignited the debate on why the country's largest aviation facility has been served by a single runway since its establishment in the 1970s. The JKIA boats more than 40 passenger airlines and 25 for cargo.

Efforts to establish the second runway have failed twice with the KCAA cancelling plans, leaving the airport in a wanting state, with past incidents leading to the delay or cancellation of flights.

In April last year, the runway was closed for nearly seven hours after a Singapore Airlines cargo plane developed mechanical glitches leading to a botched take-off.

The incident by the B747-400 aircraft forced a temporary suspension of all incoming and outgoing flights.

"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," KAA said in a statement at the time.

Fourteen months before the incident, the KAA closed the runway after an aeroplane was left stranded on the landing strip, preventing flights from landing and taking off.

The incident in February 2022 led to a redirection in the number of all inbound flights to Mombasa and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

Other closures have resulted from repair work during off-peak hours.

Last year, the government announced that it had resolved a land dispute, paving the way for the construction of a new terminal and second runway at the JKIA. Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen announced at the time that construction would begin this year.

"That place is now free for us to go to the market and look for a private investor [sic]," he said, but the project stalled after the groundbreaking in 2013.

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