Airlines and operators to Africa have been working around the clock to try to limit disruption caused by the massive blaze which devastated Nairobi airport.
Hundreds of passengers have been left stranded outside Jomo Kenyatta international airport amid chaotic scenes as a result of the mystery fire which swept through the main arrivals and immigration area early yesterday morning.
The fire took about four hours to bring under control, by which time the arrivals hall had been gutted.
There were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries, although two people were treated for smoke inhalation.
The airport reopened for cargo and domestic services yesterday afternoon but many flights were diverted to other regional airports such as Mombassa.
Cabinet secretary for transport Michael Kamau said the small domestic terminal would be used for handling international departures and arrivals.
The Kenya Tourism Board said: “Kenya has a strong domestic transportation infrastructure with the average leisure traveller to Kenya visiting a minimum of 2-3 centres within the destination during their Kenya holiday.
“Ground handler transportation is equipped to travel long distances throughout Kenya. Ground handlers are therefore working to transport their diverted passengers to their intended destination within Kenya as soon as possible.”
Kenya Airways confirmed that a flight from Nairobi to Heathrow last night, which was initially cancelled, has been reinstated and will now operate this morning at 11am.
An evening service is now expecting to run as normal from London to Nairobi.
Kenya Airways’ transiting passengers have been checked in to hotels in Nairobi and others in Mombasa have been given the option of transferring to Nairobi by road, with approximately 200 passengers choosing this option.
Foreign airlines which use the airport include British Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, KLM, Turkish Airways, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airways. Several cancelled flights to Nairobi on Wednesday.
BA said it was in contact with the authorities to provide passengers due to travel with as much information and notice as possible. People due to travel on a cancelled Nairobi service yesterday have been given the option of a refund or rebooking their flight to a later date.
Virgin Holidays said it was monitoring the situation at the airport.
“We’re in close contact with our in-country representatives and with our airline partners to fully understand the impact this incident will have on the small number of customers we currently have there,” a spokeswoman said.
“We will continue to update those customers and if necessary make any alternative travel arrangements to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.”
Thomas Cook said it was rescheduling the departure for two passengers due to fly to Nairobi yesterday but said it did not have huge numbers travelling to and from Kenya over the next few days.
“Hopefully the airport will re-open soon and there won’t be an impact on forward bookings; as soon as we have more information we will contact agents if necessary,” a spokeswoman said.
Kuoni said holidaymakers affected by the closure of the airport have been contacted and their itineraries amended.
“Kuoni’s operations team is working closely with our ground agents in Kenya to ensure that any customers who are currently in resort and impacted by the closure of the airport, or are due to arrive are contacted and their itineraries amended accordingly,” a spokeswoman said. “Customers will be contacted on a rolling basis until the airport reopens.”
Budget carrier Fastjet suspended its Fky540 operations in Kenya while those in neighbouring Tanzania were unaffected.
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