Two KQ flights turned back to JKIA over technical hitches

Kenya Airways has suffered two back-to-back international flight interruptions this week due to technical hitches.

KQ flight 706 to Lusaka and Harare was on Wednesday morning turned back to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after the Embraer plane developed “pressurisation issues”.

A day earlier, flight KQ576 to Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic, was turned back midflight due to “technical reasons”, which the airline did not elaborate.

“The aircraft (KQ706) developed a pressurisation issue and for safety reasons is turning back to Nairobi and should be landing in 10 minutes,” the airline said early Wednesday morning through its official Twitter handle.

The flight, which began the 110-minute journey at 8:02am, landed safely at JKIA and the passengers on board were to be transferred to two other flights, the first of which departed at 12:57pm.

On Tuesday morning, another plane had aborted its flight to Bangui, a destination it resumed this month after suspension in March 2013.

The passengers on the flight, who were rebooked into a Wednesday flight, captured images of the plane landing at JKIA before being escorted by emergency service vehicles.

KQ, whose fleet consists of 46 passenger planes and two freighters, insisted that the two incidents were “not emergency” situations and that the “turn backs” were precautionary in nature.

“(The two airplanes) returned to JKIA shortly after takeoff when they both developed minor technical problems. The two incidences were purely coincidental,” the airline said in a statement.

“A decision was made to have the aircraft return to JKIA for maintenance as a safeguard to avoid return delays.”

KQ, which last year won the British Safety Council International Safety Award, has maintained a good safety record over recent years.

The NSE-listed airline also holds several safety and compliance certifications, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operating Safety Audit and IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO).

Its annual report, however, shows that the biggest cause of flight delays as of March was technical defects followed by ground handling issues.

Other contributors to flight interruptions were flight crew shortages, issues with airport facilities and bird strikes, which increased 45 per cent to close the year at 77 incidences.

“Most bird strikes inflicted minor damage on the engines and other areas of the aircraft while others had major damages leading to air turn backs,” KQ says in the report.