Business Jet Ops to Kenya: Airport Overview
This is a post by author Victoria Swai. Victoria is a permits officer for Kilimanjaro Aviation Logistics Centre (KALC), a subsidiary of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. which is headquartered in Mwanza, Tanzania. Victoria is an expert on permits for the African region and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to Kenya.
In comparison to many international destinations, Kenya is a very welcoming General Aviation (GA) operating environment without many onerous pre-planning requirements or procedural hurdles. Still, it’s important to plan on adequate lead time for all airport, parking, fuel uplift, and service requests.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Operating hours, curfews, and services
Most major airports in Kenya operate 24/7. However, from time to time, there are night closures, as published by Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), for runway work and maintenance. For example, Mombasa (HKMO) and Nairobi Wilson (HKNW) are 24-hour airports of entry, while Nairobi (HKJK) currently has night closures, in effect until April 2016, for runway resurfacing and construction of two new terminals. Aircraft services and fuel uplifts are generally available at all hours an airport is open; however, you should reconfirm this with your handler. Note that domestic and regional airports in Kenya are not 24-hour locations, and requests for all support services and fuel uplifts should be sent and confirmed well in advance of day of operation. For non-24-hour airports, overtime may be requested, but you’ll need to confirm overtime arrangements well in advance.
2. No noise restrictions
Kenya currently has no operating noise restrictions for any airport in the country. Operations of Stage 2 aircraft are permitted throughout Kenya.
3. Aviation fuel considerations
To avoid issues with potential fuel uplift delays, it’s best to provide 48 hours’ notice, with minimum advance notification of no less than 24 hours. Always carry a fuel release confirmation and forward a copy of this to your handler. Fuel shortages are seldom an issue in Kenya, and NOTAMs are issued if any fuel shortage situation is anticipated.
4. Airport – city transfers
Airports in Kenya are typically close, only a few kilometers, from most cities/towns/metro locations. Be aware, however, that traffic congestion can be very challenging at larger cities in Kenya, particularly during 0600-0900 and 1500-1900 local rush hours. What may normally be a 15-minute drive between the city and airport under normal conditions may evolve into a two-hour journey during high-traffic periods.
5. Airport infrastructure
Runways at all major airports are well maintained, and NOTAMs are issued in the event of runway, ramp, or terminal maintenance/construction being performed. Hangar space for transient GA is possible at HKJK. The hangar is owned/operated by a scheduled commercial airline, and a formal request must be submitted in advance to use this facility. For other airports in Kenya, it’s best to check in advance with your ground handler on hangar availability.
6. Peak operating periods
While scheduled commercial activity always takes precedence at airports in Kenya, this does not significantly impact GA operations. Major airports often experience peaks in commercial activity 0300-0500 and 1700-2030 UTC. During these times slight operational delays are possible for GA – particularly in terms of fuel uplift and Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance. Smaller airports in Kenya do not experience peak travel period conditions.
7. Aircraft parking
Aircraft parking and extended parking are seldom issues at Kenyan airports. HKJK is the only airfield in the country with airport slot and advance parking confirmation requirements. For operation to HKJK, it’s important to note that airport slots and parking confirmations must always be obtained in advance. Slot requirements have been in effect at HKJK since April 2015. GA parking is generally in the same areas as commercial aircraft in Kenya, and parking costs are normally determined based on aircraft maximum takeoff weight and size. The only exception is HKNW, a privately owned GA-only airport, where operations do not mix with any commercial airline activity. While HKNW appears to be a good choice for operations to the Nairobi area, it’s important to be mindful that this privately operated airport only has runway length of 5,052 feet and – currently, at least – offers fewer ground handling options than HKJK. If your aircraft needs to be relocated during a stay in Kenya, you’ll be notified in advance. In some cases crew members may be required to be present for such moves.
8. Ramp checks
Kenyan authorities conduct random aircraft ramp checks on arrival and/or departure – even in cases of international tech stops. So, it’s important to ensure that required documentation – including airworthiness and registration certificates, worldwide insurance, and maintenance logs – is onboard at all times. Random ramp checks typically take just 10-15 minutes, assuming all documentation is in order. If required documentation is not available, there may be fines involved, and your aircraft may be grounded until correct information is provided. To avoid potential ramp check complications, it’s best to ensure that all such documentation is provided in advance to your ground handler. While this will cut down on the prospect of a ramp check, these checks take place at discretion of local authorities. Note that all GA aircraft traveling to Kenya these days are currently subject to increased scrutiny, due to recent terror-related events that have occurred in the country.
9. Crew activities in Kenya
For crew remaining overnight in Kenya, there are local art galleries, museums, and architectural sights to enjoy. Nairobi also has what is said to be the only national park in the world that’s within city limits. In terms of personal security, always be aware of your surroundings, avoid remote or secluded areas, and do not walk alone, especially at night. We recommend reading this series on aviation security pre-planning for best practices.
10. Additional reading: Business Aircraft Ops to Kenya – Series Index
Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.
- Part 1 – Airport operations
- Part 2 – Ground handling
- Part 3 – Fuel, security, and additional services
- Part 4 – CIQ
- Part 5 – CIQ, documentation, and tech stops
- Part 6 – Permits and slots
- Part 7 – Flight planning, weather, and NOTAMs
- Part 8 – Hotels and local area
Arrangements for services throughout Kenya are straightforward but should be made in advance. For travel to domestic airports, take into consideration the operating hours and services available. It’s important that proper documentation always be available onboard, in the case that you have a ramp check, even for tech stops.
Later, we’ll discuss ground handling for Kenya and its impact on your trip.