Trump won’t stop plans for di­rect flights – PS

Get­ting di­rect flights to the US is an in­de­pen­dent func­tion of the FAA. I don’t think pol­i­tics could play into this, says Nyak­era

The Star (Kenya) - - News Business - WEITERE MWITA AND RICHARD MUNGAI @TheS­tarKenya

Kenya’s long-run­ning pur­suit of di­rect flights to the United States will not be ob­structed by the change of regime in Jan­uary, Min­istry of Trans­port re­as­sured yes­ter­day.

Of­fi­cials from the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, US’s avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor, com­pleted a five-day au­dit of Kenya’s avi­a­tion in­dus­try’s se­cu­rity and safety mea­sures last week. The as­sess­ment will give ver­dict if the Jomo Keny­atta In­ter­na­tional Air­port will at­tain cat­e­gory one sta­tus, paving the way for di­rect flights.

Don­ald Trump’s shock vic­tory fol­low­ing the fiercely con­tested elec­tion on Novem­ber 11 has un­nerved many coun­tries due to his pro­tec­tion­ist poli- cies that en­deared him to his sup­port­ers.

Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Irungu Nyak­era, how­ever, down­played the fears say­ing the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which reg­u­lates all as­pects of civil avi­a­tion in the US, is in­de­pen­dent from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. It is the only pol­i­cy­mak­ing body with power to de­cide whether or not the coun­try will be al­lowed to im­ple­ment the an­tic­i­pated ser­vice.

“From where we sit, get­ting di­rect flights to the US is an in­de­pen­dent func­tion of the FAA. I don’t think pol­i­tics could play into the process,” the PS said yes­ter­day in an in­ter­view on the side­lines of the Sixth Africa Avi­a­tion Law Con­fer­ence in Nairobi.

Kenya Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity di­rec­tor gen­eral Gil­bert Kibe said they are await­ing the fi­nal re­port from the FAA, which will de­ter­mine if the di­rect flights to US will ma­te­ri­alise.

“They are go­ing to file the re­port in the next 30 days and give it to us. The re­port will tell us if we are go­ing ahead,” Kibe said.

The FAA’s In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion Safety As­sess­ment pro­ce­dure con­cen­trates on the pro­cesses and doc­u­men­ta­tions of a coun­try’s reg­u­la­tory body.

The au­dit, Kibe said, fo­cused on 300 items in­clud­ing the eight crit­i­cal el­e­ments of safety over­sight sys­tem, as de­fined by the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The lat­est devel­op­ment now pushes di­rect flights from Kenya to the US to next year, as op­posed to a pre­vi­ous pre­dic­tion of Novem­ber by the Trans­port min­istry.

/JOHN CHESOLI

Trans­port PS Irungu Nyak­era and CS James Macharia at the White Sands Ho­tel on July 14

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