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Delta Delayed on Nairobi, Monrovia FlightsJune 4, 2009 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor
Delta Air Lines has been denied permission to fly directly to Nairobi, Kenya, and Monrovia, Liberia, until security standards there are met or until assessments change, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday.
The agency is allowing the airline to go ahead with plans to fly directly to Abuja, Nigeria.
Delta had announced the direct flights to the three African cities last year, and air service had been expected to begin this month.
The Transportation Security Agency said in a written statement that it has denied Delta's request to fly to Nairobi from Atlanta and to Monrovia from New York because of "security vulnerabilities" in and around the Kenyan capital and security deficiencies at Roberts International Airport in Monrovia.
"TSA, along with key partners within the U.S. government, assess a credible threat to civil aviation in East Africa," agency spokeswoman Kristin Lee said. "At this time, the current threat is too significant to permit these flights."
It's disappointing news for tour operators who do business in Africa, such as Philadelphia-based Swain Tours. "It is a shame," said founder Ian Swain, "as having more nonstop flights will be great. Delta is a great airline and now flies to all continents (except Antarctica), so their feed for us is terrific.
"I hope they will still fly there," he added, "but obviously it will be a little later than planned as they get this all sorted out."
Delta said in a written statement that it has been "contacting customers to re-accommodate them on long-established connecting flights offered by our joint venture partners Air France-KLM and other SkyTeam member airlines, which carry Americans to these destinations in Africa through their European hubs."
The Department of Homeland Security had informed Delta of the decision Tuesday, the airline said.
"Africa continues to be an important region for Delta," the airline said, noting that it offers scheduled service to Accra, Ghana; Cairo, Egypt; Johannesburg and Cape Town, SouthAfrica ; Lagos, Nigeria; and Dakar, Senegal.