03/01/2020 – The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned American air carriers to “exercise caution” when flying over Kenyan airspace, citing possible attacks by extremists.
In an advisory directed to civilian airliners and all operators of US-registered aircraft issued last week, the agency said: “Those persons are advised to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within, or over the territory and airspace of Kenya East of 40 degrees East longitude at altitudes below fl260 due to the possibility of extremist/militant activity.”
FAA said it will review the advisory by February 26, 2020.
“Aircraft may encounter various anti-aircraft weapons, including manpads, small-arms, and indirect fire weapons such as mortars and rockets, which could target aircraft at low altitudes, including during the arrival and departure phases of flight and/or target airports and aircraft on the ground,” it said.
Kenya has battled terrorism in recent years especially along the restive northeastern border where Al- Shabaab militants have executed several attacks.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has also imposed sanctions on several Kenyans over alleged support to terrorist groups.
Two years ago, the US government cleared the sale of 12 new American-made light attack helicopter gunships as Nairobi continues to build up its military arsenal in the face of mounting security challenges.
In 2017, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) achieved the Category One status that paved way for direct flights between Kenya and the US, bringing to an end the long search for express connection between the two countries.
The FAA granted Nairobi the top status after carrying out a series of assessment audits in the country.
In 2002, two missiles were fired at an Israeli holiday jet that had taken off from Mombasa city’s airport.
Brian Ngugi / The East African (Kenya)