By Anyang’ Nyong’o
On Sunday April 15 I was waiting at the Kisumu International Airport to catch Fly 540 to Nairobi at 7.20pm. The flight had originally been scheduled to leave at 8pm but the airline was gracious enough to send me a text message in the early afternoon informing me of the new departure time. I promptly reported one hour earlier to be in time for the flight.
At seven o’clock it was announced that the flight was delayed and we would now leave at 8pm as was originally scheduled.
At 8pm another announcement was made to the effect that the flight would now arrive at 9pm and departure time would be 9.10pm.
At 9pm no announcement was made, no flight was in sight and we were left in limbo regarding what was going on. I therefore went to the airline personnel to find out what was going on and why they were not communicating with the passengers who had been waiting to depart for over three hours.
The young men and women looked perplexed as they desperately searched for something sensible to tell me.
Finally, one of them offered the explanation: The flight was just about to land in Kisumu when the Controller on Duty, a Mr Ang’awa, told the pilot he could neither land nor take off from Kisumu International Airport after 9pm in the night.
I could not believe my ears. I therefore demanded to talk to Ang’awa who confirmed that the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has that law in place and there was nothing he could do about it.
When I asked him what an airline needed to do in the event that a plane was to land late in Kisumu, he explained to me that KAA needed to receive such requests in writing early enough to give permission for late landing.
Quite often, however, delays are caused by last minute hitches that may not be amenable to letter writing and such bureaucratic procedures.
Ang’awa, like a typical Pharisee, reminded me once again that the law stands as it is and there was very little he could do about it. In any case, KAA does not provide him with transport after 9pm to go to downtown Kisumu so he would be reluctant to use his discretion in such circumstances even were he to have powers for such discretion. I reminded Ang’awa that it is the passengers who pay his salaries and who keep the airport in business.
Neither he nor the Fly 540 personnel can do without passengers coming in and out of the airport, and to disappoint close to 120 passengers because a law could not be adapted to the circumstances was rather callous. At that point in time he hanged up.