The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCA) has issued a dire warning to airlines flying domestic and international flights, that their licenses would be revoked if they keep on disregarding cargo regulations.
KCA Director General, Macharia Kibe, said in a letter addressed to carriers that it is an offense to use passenger flights to carry cargo. In the same breath, airlines are also prohibited from using cargo aircraft to carry passengers without prior approval from the KCA.
“It has been observed there has been disregard of the law and the regulations as regards the carriage of cargo by aircraft by Air Operator Certificate holders that provide freight services,” read a part of the letter.
It has also been reported that despite numerous warnings, some operators have kept on providing air services even without licenses.
In one case, Kibe through a letter signed by Captain Tom Ongeche, ordered a popular airline operating from Wilson Airport to cease operations since it had changed shareholders without informing the KCA.
It was also operating scheduled flights under another company that did not have an air services license.
“This is a serious violation of the regulations and the authority reserves the right to met sanctions against your company.
“The Authority directs that you stop conducting domestic scheduled air services forthwith, either by yourself or through any other operator, until and when granted variation of license by the Authority,” said another KCA letter written last year and signed by Ongeche.
In its communication with air operators, the KCA stresses that the violation of carriage of cargo is the worst and most widespread offense. These could even derail Kenya’s plans to have direct flights to and from the United States.
The most affected are the airlines that carry passengers and cargo, especially miraa, to Somalia.
They include Capital Airlines,Sskyward Aviation, Bluebird Aviation, Silverstone Airlines, Buffair Airlines, Rudufu Airlines and Bushair Services.
In some cases, the operators of light aircrafts remove seats aircraft and ferry cargo.
According to the Civil Aviation Act (2013) and the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act 2016 and other international rules, operators are to strictly adhere to safety guidelines for either passenger or cargo carriage.
Breach of these regulations would not only lead to the cancellation of the licenses by the KCA, but also result in international air transport regulators such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) banning Kenyan-registered planes, much like what transpired in Uganda four years ago.
Unlike passenger planes, cargo aircraft have specific and unique configurations that keep the cargo on board safe and secure.
According to KCA regulations, aircraft with a license to carry passengers are only allowed to load cargo in specific compartments.
However, seven airlines operating both at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and at Wilson Airport, have been ignoring this mandate.
Aviation experts related that if the loaded cargo on the passenger aircraft is not secured well while on board, it can move due to turbulence and pilot would then be unable to control the aircraft because the weight will be unbalanced.
The KCA specified that a cargo aircraft should conform to compartment classification as defined under regulations of 2013 that says what a cargo carrier should look like.