It’s not too common for flights to have to make a U-turn during the course of their journey. But it’s even more uncommon for a flight to make a double U-turn. However, that’s just what happened for flight BA65 en route from London to Nairobi. The flight took off at 10:34 local time today but is about three hours late arriving at its destination in Kenya. So what happened? Let’s find out.
The flight details
British Airways flight BA65 took off from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) at 10:34, headed for Nairobi, Kenya. However, according to Aerotime, after one hour and 40 minutes in the air, the flight landed back in Heathrow. But shortly after landing, it took off for Kenya once again.
Reports indicate that as the Boeing 777-200 was flying in the area around Frankfurt (Germany), the aircraft’s crew received a message that Kenyan authorities would not allow the flight access to the country’s airspace. Kenyan media reports that the country announced a ban on international travel on Sunday with the ruling coming into effect midnight of March 25th.
LIVE: British Airways #BA65 London Heathrow to Nairobi (Boeing 777-200ER G-RAES) has turned back near Frankfurt & is returning to LHR.
— Airport Webcams (@AirportWebcams) March 27, 2020
With the aircraft being airborne for one hour and 40 minutes, and reports that the aircraft took off at 13:15, we can see that the aircraft was not on the ground at Heathrow for very long at all. While it’s unfortunate that time and fuel was wasted, it is better than risking a single U-Turn to Heathrow further along in the journey.
Air travel chaos
Simple Flying has already reported on numerous U-Turn events associated with COVID-19 restrictions and fears. Our most recent report before this was on March 22nd when a KLM flight on its way to Delhi (India) had to return to Amsterdam (Netherlands) while over Russia. The cause of the incident was a miscommunication between the flight and India’s civil aviation authorities as India was in the midst of imposing its own travel restrictions.
Before this incident on March 15th, a number of Jet2 flights heading to Spain from the United Kingdom made U-turns over France, returning to their departing airports. In this case, the planes were directed to turn around due to coronavirus fears and precautions. This proved to be a wise decision as Spain has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
We are currently tracking 27 Jet2 flights. 7 of them with destination Spain have turned around and are returning to the UK.
At this point we don't know the reason. Other airlines keep flying to Spain. pic.twitter.com/FTrWpWXqrk
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 14, 2020
At this time it seems like the majority of chaos is over as the largest countries have imposed their own restrictions. However, we may see a few more situations like this in the days and weeks to come as even more countries restrict their airspace and cut themselves off from international commercial flights.
The main exception to this has been special repatriation flights organized between commercial airlines and national governments. For example, a Lufthansa 747 made the journey from Frankfurt (Germany) to Auckland (New Zealand) in order to bring home German travelers. Air Canada has been operating special flights to Morocco and Peru for Canadians, while Kuwait Airways recently brought back a plane full of Kuwaitis from New York. These are just a few examples of the many repatriation flights taking place this month.
Have you been on a repatriation flight? Share your experience with us in the comments.
We contacted British Airways for comment but no response was received at the time of publishing.