Nariobi: City at a Glance

City: Nairobi

Country: Republic of Kenya

Status: Capital, largest city, and financial center (for East Africa as well as Kenya)

Country visa requirement: Yes, for passengers and crew, however, for North American and European operators, crew visas can be obtained on arrival (i.e., unnecessary to apply for visas in advance except for passengers). Flight crews must be in uniform and present official crew IDs. General Declarations necessary for all aircraft occupants. Passengers and crew arriving from countries where yellow fever is present must carry valid yellow fever inoculation cards.

Landing permit requirement: Yes, minimum lead time for applying is 72 hr. Recommend having local handler obtain permit for more efficient processing.

Sponsor letter required: No

Aircraft documents required: Airworthiness certificate, aircraft registration, insurance certificate with country coverage

Any other requirements for visiting aircraft: No operational restrictions.

Carbon trading requirement: No

ATC procedures: ICAO Pans Ops

Any unique procedures: No. SIDs and STARs in effect for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (HKJK). Revised ICAO flight plan in effect since Nov. 15, 2012.

Altimetry: QNH

Metric or feet: Feet


WGS 84-compliant: Yes

Local navigator required: No


Name & ICAO identifier: Joumo Kenyatta International Airport (HKJK)

Coordinates: 1° 19' 9” S 35° 55' 39” E

POE: Yes

Elevation: 5,327 ft.

Runways: 6/24, 13,503 ft. x 147 ft., asphalt (bitumen), PCN: 65FAWT

Slots: No

Noise restrictions: No

Curfew: No

FBOs: None, however, several handling agencies are located on the airport.

Clear CIQ at: Passenger terminal; handlers escort passengers and crew entirely through process, which takes 15-25 min. (see text for details).

Parking: Business and general aviation parking at Aprons 1 or 3; parking assigned depending on fueling needs – see text for details. For peak period arrivals, handler will prearrange parking spot with airport operations. Generally there are no issues regarding parking availability for non-airline aircraft, although in most cases, passengers and crew will need to be transported to and from aircraft via van, all arranged in advance by handlers.

Hanagarage: Kenya Airways, extremely limited.

Fuel: Jet A1, major brands, no problems with fuel availability.

Credit: Major fuel cards; prearranged carnet.

Maintenance: Kenya Airways maintenance facility on field, however, no dedicated business aircraft maintenance. (With the amount of international airline activity at HKJK, parts can be readily flown in from Europe or South Africa; have local handler negotiate with customs for quick release of parts.)

Lav service: Yes

Catering: Nairobi Airport Services

Fees: Landing, parking, handling, all rated as “reasonable,” e.g., landing: $102-$130 for long-range business jets; handling: $800-$1,000.

Security: Considered good: armed officers, secured areas, detectors and CCTV. Aircraft guards can be arranged through airport security department.

Ground Transportation: All types; have handlers or hotel arrange vetted cars.

Distance and driving time to downtown: 25-40 min., depending on rush periods

Remarks: Ground handling equipment generally available at HKJK except portable air conditioning units. Luxury hotels available in Nairobi proper.

BCA appreciates the assistance it received for this report from Jeppesen flight planning services.

Close your eyes and think: “Nairobi.” What images does that name conjure? An exotic frontier town occupied by a mix of races embracing native, Asian and European cultures? The romantic gateway to East Africa? The Veldt? Safaris? Wondrous animals? Generations of Leakeys uncovering the bones of proto-humans in the nearby Great Rift Valley? Birthplace of humanity?

Nairobi is the portal to all these things — wrapped up in a modern, vibrant, sometimes argumentative (especially during election season) metropolis. Today, it is not only the capital and largest city of the Republic of Kenya, but with a population of 3.1 million people, Nairobi reigns as the largest city in East Africa. Additionally, it serves as the region's financial center and a magnet for business.

The city is host to hundreds of local businesses as well as headquarters for African divisions of many international corporations, including Cisco Systems, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, General Electric, Visa and Intel. Reflecting the business climate, the Nairobi Stock Exchange is one of the largest and oldest on the African continent. Significantly, too, the African and Middle Eastern headquarters of the United Nations is permanently based in Nairobi.

Not surprisingly, as Kenya's principal city, it serves as a conduit for tourism into the host country's spectacular outback, likewise a major industry for the republic. Thus, Nairobi is a “destination city” for business and private aviation.

Operators heading for Nairobi will find an aviation infrastructure comparable to the U.K.'s, a remnant of Kenya's British Commonwealth (and colonial) heritage when the country was named British East Africa.

Operations are uniformly ICAO Pans Ops, altimetry is familiar QNH (i.e., referenced from MSL) expressed in feet, the country is WGS 84-compliant (so your synthetic vision system should overlay the real world), controllers speak flawless English and RVSM is in effect.

“There is nothing out of the ordinary in terms of operations in Kenya,” Wynand Meyer, Jeppesen's vendor relations manager for East and Southern Africa, told BCA. As at any North American or European airport, there are SIDs and STARs applying to Nairobi's principal airport, Jomo Kenyatta International (HKJK). So adapting to Kenyan airspace should pose no challenges.

Preparation for a flight to Nairobi begins with Kenyan entry requirements. Crewmembers and passengers require visas, but the former do not have to apply for them in advance and may obtain them on arrival. To qualify for this service, crewmembers must be in uniform attire, present official crew IDs, and arrive and leave on private aircraft. Most nationalities qualify for this policy, but there are some that do not — check country AIPs to determine which ones.

Meanwhile, passengers should apply for their visas in advance of the flight. General Declarations will be necessary for all aircraft occupants, and passengers and crew arriving from countries where yellow fever is present must carry valid yellow fever inoculation cards.

Landing permits are required, as well, with the minimum lead time of 72 hr. “We tend to apply for them through a local agent for faster service,” Jeppesen's Meyer said. “Going directly to the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority is not recommended, as the agency is not always that responsive. On the other hand, they can surprise you and issue one in flight on quick notice, as they did recently for one of our clients.” All this applies to tech stops as well.

Mile-High Airport

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