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High Frequency of Kenya Airways Flight Interruptions Causing Embarrassment for Travelers

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Monrovia – One of Africa’s leading and previously reliable airlines has been experiencing a high volume of flight cancellations and delays in recent weeks prompting many travelers across the continent to experience unnecessary embarrassments.

The airline recently announced that it had been forced to divert some flights after bad weather disrupted normal operations at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. However, passengers on most flights covering Liberia, Sierra Leone and other West African countries have been forced to change travel plans or sit on planes for five or six hours after boarding, leading to cancellations.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 11, passengers on KQ 502 and 503 flying Accra, Monrovia, Freetown and Nairobi were told the their flights had been cancelled due to technical problems with the plane. 

Passengers on KQ502, which is a Boeing B737-800 series, serves route from Ghana to Liberia (ACC to ROB) departs Accra at 12:00 (12:00 pm) and arrives Monrovia, Roberts on September 15 14:00 (2:00 pm). In recent days however, that flight has been experiencing unexpected delays.

The same flight serves routes from Liberia to Sierra Leone (ROB to FNA), departing Monrovia, at 3:10 pm and arriving at Lungi by 4:00 pm) for a short break before arriving in Accra by 7pm.

Passengers leaving Accra last Saturday passing through Freetown experienced similar issues and were seated on the plane for more than six hours without any explanation except murmurs that the plane had some technical issues.

The interruptions are just the latest in a long line of issues with its flights across the continent. 

The delays have prompted the airline to issue advisory on its website notifying travelers of what to do in the event of an interruption.

The airline statement notes: “We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused by your delayed or cancelled flight. We understand how stressful this can be and we will always do our best to prevent this. If we have to make any changes, we’ll carefully consider all possible options to minimize the impact to your journey and will only cancel a flight if we absolutely have to.”

Regarding schedules, delays and cancellations of flights, the airline says flight times shown in timetables may change between the date of publication and the date of actual travel. “We do not guarantee them to you and they do not form part of your contract with us. Before we accept your booking, we will notify you of the scheduled flight time in effect as of that time, and it will be shown on your ticket. It is possible we may need to change the scheduled flight time subsequent to the issuance of your ticket. Please therefore always provide us with your contact information; we will endeavor to notify you of any such changes.”

“We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused by your delayed or cancelled flight. We understand how stressful this can be and we will always do our best to prevent this. If we have to make any changes, we’ll carefully consider all possible options to minimize the impact to your journey and will only cancel a flight if we absolutely have to.”

– Management, Kenya Airways

In the event of any flight delays or cancellation, we shall do the following, the airline says it will notify travels about changes of flights and will rebook you to next available Kenya Airways flights or an alternative airline to your destination shown on the ticket within reasonable time without additional charge. “If the fare and charges for the revised routing are lower than what you have paid, we shall refund the difference.”

However, some travelers on the KQ502 flight last Wednesday, Sept. 11, took it upon themselves to book flights on Arik Air which was leaving later that evening bound for Monrovia.

The airline has promised  that in case of flight delays or cancellations, it will provide essential service such as accommodation, meals, ground transportation as the situation requires. “If you don’t wish to travel, you can cancel your booking and get a refund from your original form of payment. If you booked through travel agents, please contact them to make refund; if you booked on Kenya Airways website, please make refund online or contact Kenya Airways offices.”

In addition to technical and weather issues, the airline in February was entangled in a strike called by the aviation workers union. The strike was called to protest against plans by Kenya Airways (KQ) to take over management of JKIA, a move that would involve airport ground staff, cargo operators, flight attendants and other support service workers who are members of the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu). Workers in duty-free shops and flight attendants were also part of the boycott. The union which has a membership of about 10,000, a quarter of whom are KQ employees excluding pilots, says the strike will start at midnight.

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