Situated on a plateau in southern Kenya, Nairobi has one airport capable of accommodating modern jet aircraft, the aforementioned Jomo Kenyatta International, elevation 5,327 ft. The field has only one runway, 6/24, which at 13,507 ft. in length can handle summertime density altitude surges. The airport is operational 24/7 and slots are not required. There are no noise restrictions or curfew. Nor are there any FBOs, but five handling companies are based there, and any of them can arrange fueling.

“Fuel is major brands,” Meyer said. “We recommend prearranging fueling with your handler to ensure promptness when you arrive. Fuel availability is never a problem, and our clients have had minimal problems operating in and out of Kenyatta.”

Meyer described the arrival procedure. “The ground handler will have used your schedule for booking a parking allocation covering the duration of your stay. There are two sections where they can park you. If you do not require fuel, they will send you to Apron 1 and, generally, leave you there until departure. Other options where you could wind up are Parking Bays 12 through 20.”

On the other hand, if the operator does need fuel, the aircraft is directed to a bay between 12 and 18 equipped with fueling hydrants. “They do not use trucks,” Meyer said. “We recommend fueling on arrival; you should arrange it in advance; however, the pilot can request it from ATC, but if the apron is full, you will have to park, then reposition to a fueling area before departure.”

Once the aircraft is secured, a handling agent meets the crew while other agents assist the passengers into the airline terminal for customs clearance. “So everyone will be escorted,” Meyer said. “You will walk to the terminal or be transported there — most of the time the walk is short. If the terminal is crowded, arrangements will have been made ahead of time by the agents to take the passengers directly to the head of the line at the counter.”

Meanwhile, baggage will follow the passengers and be x-rayed. The entire customs clearing process takes between 15 and 25 min. “The agents will liaise with the passengers' sponsor or representative in Nairobi in advance to arrange transportation and where it will meet the passengers,” Meyer said. “The same arrival process will apply to the crew — they will follow the passengers. You will need both inbound and outbound GenDecs listing the normal details on crew, passengers and aircraft.”

When it's time to depart, handling agents can meet the crew and passengers at the hotel and accompany them to the airport to coordinate services. “In this case,” Meyer pointed out, “all the luggage will go through a business-class check at the Kenyan Airways counter, and the handler will deliver the bags to the aircraft.” For security purposes, passengers are asked to identify their bags at the aircraft.

Flight plans can be filed up to an hour prior to departure (or as early as 120 hr. before), and the flight plan must be in the new ICAO 2012 format that came into effect on Nov. 15, 2012. Good catering is available from Nairobi Airport Services with minimum 4-hr. lead time. The flight kitchen uses air-conditioned vans to deliver the food to the aircraft.

With no dedicated business aviation servicing on the field, what maintenance is available at Kenyatta is provided by Kenya Airways, which is headquartered in Nairobi. On the other hand, with numerous international airlines serving Nairobi, it is fairly easy to get parts to the airport from South Africa, where most business aviation OEMs maintain service centers, or from Europe. It is recommended that handlers shepherd the parts through customs to ensure fast passage.

As many visitors come to Kenya to hunt game, if planning to enter the country with firearms aboard, notify the handler to make arrangements for declaring the weapons and obtaining necessary permits. Generally, the firearms will be carried from the aircraft to CIQ by handlers or customs agents. If planning a hunting safari, have the agent or hotel arrange it with a reliable and safe guide service.

While a modern, cosmopolitan city, Nairobi nevertheless harbors considerable poverty and unemployment, and thus crime is consequent there.

“Avoid congested areas and be careful walking around in the evening,” Meyer advised. “Be vigilant of your valuables. We recommend that the crew ask the handler for advice on what areas to avoid. Very good English is spoken.”

Kenya has historically been one of the more stable democracies in Africa, except it seems, during election periods. These can often result in violent demonstrations or outright riots, as was seen most recently in the 2008 presidential election (which wound up in a bizarre shared leadership in which both candidates serve in office simultaneously in order to quell public dissatisfaction). National elections were scheduled to cycle around again this March.

Nevertheless, with proper precautions, Kenya and Nairobi offer unforgettably positive experiences. The plateau scenery is spectacular, with national parks and other protected areas to choose from for excursions or safaris. After all, this is Africa's beating heart. Now, open your eyes and get started with your flight planning. BCA