Kenya Recertifies The Boeing 737 MAX

Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority has authorized the Boeing 737 MAX to once again fly in Kenyan skies after being grounded for nearly two years. This MAX ungrounding is just the latest around the world, with the most recent decision coming from the United Arab Emirates. While none of Kenya’s carriers operate the MAX, this decision paves the way for carriers like Ethiopian Airlines to fly the jet into the country – once it is recertified in Ethiopia.

737 MAX Ethiopian
While the country does not have carriers that operate the type, Kenya has a notable connection to the 737 MAX, as the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX that crashed was destined for the capital of Nairobi. Photo: LLBG Spotter via Wikimedia Commons

The MAX’s return to Kenya

According to Business Daily Africa, the Civil Aviation Authority of Kenya is once again permitting the 737 MAX to fly into and through Kenyan airspace. The type faced a Chinese-led worldwide grounding in March of 2019 following the fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302.

“The airlines are free to fly Boeing 737 Max to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, there are no restrictions that we are going to impose,” -Gilbert Kibe, Director-General, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority

737 max crash
Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 was flying from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, when it crashed. Photo: Getty Images

Simple Flying approached Boeing for a response to this news. It stated:

“We continue to work closely with global regulators and customers to safely return the 737-8 and 737-9 to service worldwide.”

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No Kenyan airlines fly the MAX

This decision will not impact any of Kenya’s carriers as none of them operate the 737 MAX. The largest of these carriers, Kenya Airways, does operate the Boeing 737, but these aircraft are older variants. According to, the airline has two 737-700s, eight -800s, and two -300 freighters.

Meanwhile, Kenya Airways subsidiary, Jambojet operates an all-Dash 8-400 fleet of just six aircraft. Most other operators in Kenya fly smaller aircraft, also suited for regional operations.

737 max turkish
Turkish Airlines operates the Boeing 737 to Nairobi. A MAX recertification would also allow the carrier to fly its MAX jets to Kenya as well. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons 

Kenya’s MAX recertification does, however, allow other carriers to fly the MAX into Kenya.

Two examples of this would be Ethiopian Airlines and Turkish Airlines, which both have the jet in their fleets. Of course, the type would need to also be recertified in these airline’s respective home countries. Furthermore, Turkish Airlines would need the civil aviation authorities of all the countries in between Turkey and Kenya to also allow the type to fly through their respective airspace.

A potential opportunity for Kenya Airways?

Now that the country has recertified the aircraft, this may give home airline Kenya Airways the confidence to order the jet. Business Daily Africa reports that The national carrier was considering ordering the 737 MAX 8 before the two accidents.

An order of new MAX jets would replace the airline’s aging 737-700s while adding slightly more capacity.

“The only option that we have planned for is the Boeing 737 MAX 8 because this will make it easier for us to conduct training and maintenance of the aircraft,” -Michael Joseph, Chairman, Kenya Airways (2019) via Business Daily Africa

737 MAX
The UAE also recently recertified the MAX to fly in its airspace, paving the way for flydubai to resume its operations with the jet. Photo: flydubai

With numerous airlines having already resumed MAX operations and more and more countries recertifying the jet, the aircraft’s popularity might just pick up as the current health crisis dies down.

Do you think Kenya Airways should order the MAX as a replacement for its older 737s? Let us know in the comments.