Kenya: Bloggers’ Reactions to Plane Crash

This is a brief overview of what Kenyan bloggers are saying about the tragic accident involving a Kenya Airways plane, which has crashed in Southern Cameroon. The plane, Boeing 737-800, was enroute from Abidjan, Ivory Coast to Nairobi, Kenya with 114 passengers on board.

Kenya Airways is the fifth largest airline in Africa and has more transcontinental flights than any other African airline. The last time a Kenyan plane crashed was in 2000 in West Africa.

Kumekucha starts with a bit of history for context:

There is something about Abidjan airport in Ivory Coast) and Kenya Airways. In the entire history of this very popular African airline (since inception in 1977 from the ashes of the East African Community owned East African Airways) that is today probably the busiest over African skies, it has had only two crashes. Both have been in the last 7 years and both have closely involved the Abidjan airport.

Al Kags reports from Nairobi:

Kenya Airways Managing Director, Titus Naikuni and Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua have just concluded a press conference where they gave the latest information regarding the missing Kenya Airways flight KQ 507 in Cameroon.
In the statement they said that they have been able to so far identify 3 of the 6 people whose nationalities were unidentified. They found that two of the people were from Equatorial Guinea and one from Mauritius. The reason some of the nationalities were unknown is that even though Kenya Airways has a flight manifest, the details of Nationality normally are with Cameroon immigration, from whom they are getting the information, albeit slowly.

Mr. Naikuni brought to the conference his head of engineering, who described the flight path that the plane was to have taken from Abidjan over Douala onwards. He showed that the area where a distress signal was received from the missing flight was and that is in a dense equatorial forest south of the flight path closer to Yaounde.

I think, therefore I blog reacts to the shocking news with a single sentence:

another one went down…..again….?

The situation in Nairobi:

Families of the 9 crew members are gathered at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and at the passenger crisis centre that has been set up at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi. The general mood in Nairobi is apprehensive as memories of the catastrophic KQ crash at Abidjan in 2000 come alive and concern for the missing plane increases by the hour.

The accident has prompted discussions about the quality of aircrafts and the safety of Africa's skies. The Diary of One Black Man wonders why Africa is prone to air accidents:

This rekindles the age old debate ..How safe is it to fly in Africa?
Why is Africa prone to air accidents? I could go on and give you a laundry list of all the reasons. Here is a continent that is struggling with financial problems. These countries get these airplanes through the “throw-them-a-bone” programme by the west which happens every once a decade so that the west can be seen as doing something. The fact that these countries do not have the parts, manpower or technology to maintain these planes is almost irrelevant. The same reasons as to why road carnage is so high in Africa will apply here!

Commenting on this post, Mental Acrobatics notes that the plane that crashed was only six months old and not a “throw-them-a-bone” aircraft:

The plane that went down was collected from Boeing in October 2006 and
went into use at Kenya Airways in November 2006. That is is just six
months ago. This was not some ramshackle “th[r]ow them a bone” aircraft.

Kenya Entrepreneur is not sure about flying Kenya Airways, which used to be his first choice of African airlines:

I had already boiled down the African airlines that I would fly to two: Kenya airways was one and South African airlines was the second. Now, I don’t know if I’d want to fly Kenya Airways again. I’m sorry…..this is the second fatal accident in less than ten years and it is going to be a huge public relations dilemma for Kenya airways, which is operating under the cloud that African airlines have one of the worst safety records in the world.

And don’t tell me accidents can happen to anyone. Kenya airways does not fly that many flights compared to the larger international carriers like British airways or Lufthansa.

Nigerian Airlines is out of the question:

So, let’s say I want to fly from Nairobi to Abuja and I want to get to my destination alive. What choices do I have? If I’m suicidal, I’ll obviously fly Nigerian airlines, but if I’m not, what do I do? do I have to fly British airways and go through London, then turn around and come back to Africa? & why have both accidents occurred in West Africa?

Kenyan Analyst is not shaken. He writes:

That said, I will still fly KQ anytime, anywhere.

Mental Acrobatics fears that hysteria might take over the debate about the safety of Africa's skies. He writes a brilliant post arguing that Africa's skies is not the worst in the world:

After the tragedy this morning with the loss of Kenya Airways flight KQ507 with 114 people on board I am more or less sure that a big debate will sprout up on how safe Africa’s skies are and on how safe African airlines are. This post aims to put some facts on the ground before hysteria takes over the debate.

The plane involved in the incident today was a brand new Boeing 737-800. The plane was collected from Boeing in October 2006 and went into service in November 2006. No ramshackle plane this. These Next-Generation 737 are the newest and most technologically advanced single-aisle airplane in the business today. It flies higher, faster and farther than previous models and competitors. In addition, its flight deck features the latest liquid-crystal flat-panel displays and is designed to accommodate new communications and flight-management capabilities.

It appears that “lumping all countries into one category” is part of the “problem” with Africa's skies:

Last year the IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said, “Africa is our biggest concern. While the continent represents just 4 percent of total air traffic worldwide, it accounts for 25 percent of the accidents.” All this following a decision by the European Commission in March 2006 to publish a “blacklist” of 92 airlines, dominated by African airlines, that it banned from European skies because of poor safety records. The “blacklist” includes 50 airlines registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 13 from Sierra Leone, 11 from Equatorial Guinea, 6 from Swaziland and 3 from Liberia. (Yes that was FIFTY from the DRC!)…Africa is a big place. You lump all the countries into one category you are going to have problems no matter what you are talking about.

Bankelele dismisses the whole question of plane crashes in Africa…”they happen all around the world“:

The question of air crashes in Africa should not arise – they happen all around the world. Yes, there are bad airlines, but it is not an African thing. Poorly run airlines do not last for very long as passengers avoid them (unless they have no alternative) and authorities (should) step in and shut them down. The (unfortunate) passenger list produced by KQ is an endorsement of the high regard that other nations have for the airline.

This is a tragic time, as are all plane crashes when they happen. This time, it has happened to Kenya Airways (KQ), an airline with an exemplary safety level.

I flew on KQ this week and will gladly fly with them tomorrow or any other day.

Finally, Kenya Bytes remembers the families, friends, and relatives of the passengers:

I would wish to extend my condolences to the families, friends and relatives of those who perished when KQ Flight 507, bound for Nairobi with 115 people aboard, crashed shortly after it took off from Douala in Cameroon on Saturday morning. To all concerned I say pole sana.


  • mkenya

    the problem with those poorly educated fellas with fake accents who left kenya during moi regime, they are not aware that things have changed and things are better now. can u please wake up and smelll the coffee. we are on top of our game while u guys break ur backs with 10 dollar jobs and always on the run cos u got no papers. Can u pls come home and get real.

  • Nikki

    I`d like to express my deep and sincere condolences to families of victims.
    While it is true that some airlines are just joking with security matters we should not put all African Airlines in the same basket. Why is it a reflex talk about security when it happens in Africa and not when it happens in Europe or America ?
    KQ seems to be a responsible airline and indeed the B737-800 is a new aircraft with up to date technologies. Other such responsible African airlines like South African or Air Mauritius which recently received the IOSA certification exist.
    Please do not draw any conclusion before any enquiry is completed.

  • Asaph

    Why have both kenya airways planes crashed in West Africa….It’s not a question of whether African skies are safe…its about which African skies are not safe. I will admitt that they are not the best airlines..but some of them including kenya airways are some of the best.

  • wanjru

    What has happened to the KQ aircraft is very tragic.
    I know it is the best airline in Africa and this accident should not make us forget this.
    Let us not speculate but wait to hear the real cause of the accident.
    It is a fact that aircrashes can happen to any airline in the world so this is not a matter of how unsafe it is to fly in africa.
    How many crashes have we heard of in the recent past in Asia,America or Europe itself?
    Lastly,i console all the friends and relatives of the passengers aboard KQ 507 during this difficult time.

  • I dont think that Africn skies are less safer than lets say, Eastern Europe or even Russia. Rather, what i think is the safety of specific country airspaces. We cant ignore the fact that West and Central Africa skies ae some of most unsafe. About the safety record of KQ, there is absolutely no doubt that they are up there with the best. Comparing KQ with British Airways or Lufthansa who fly international flights and never come close to the incompetence that is galore at some ramshakle ‘international’ airports in Africa, is totally unfair. The passenger manifest is also a badge of honour that KQ is truly the best in Africa. In anycase, their interconnection of African cities via Nairobi hub to the world is unmatched.
    My sincere condolences to the airline and the family and friends of the victims. And recall, the assistance that KQ offered after 2000 crash has been unmatched since.

  • […] Saturday, May 5th, 2007 at 10:44 AM Update 1: Almost all the visits to this post are coming from people Googling “KQ507”. Please read my follow up post on Kenya Airways and safety in the African sky. You may also want to read a round up of what Kenyan bloggers have been saying about this tragedy and keep an eye on the KenyaUnlimited aggregator for the latest thoughts from Kenyan bloggers. […]

  • Omija TB

    At this time of sorrow, could I urge journalists to be more sensitive and not rush to publish information which has not been verified? A case in point is the publication of the name of the wrong Flight Engineer of Flight KQ 507. I can’t begin to imagine the trauma that that false information caused to the relatives and friends of the engineer, who fortunately is alive and well and on official duty in Dakar, Senegal.

  • Benard Oz:

    How can it take all this time for people to know about the truth of this plane crash in Cameroon? This is certainly cause for alarm. Something needs to be done about this horrific tragedy happening on the African continent. No body is safe now. Looks like there is a tendency to care less about human life. Don’t tell me it happens everywhere like that. We better be serious about what really matters when it comes to saving life. I thank and encourage those who are doing their best to show their concern in this matter.

  • armand

    Air Mauritius did not get any air crashes for the past 20 years.

  • April

    How can I find out the names of the passengers, I think my pastor may be the one American listed on board! Help please.

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