Fly SAX airline flights to Kitale resumed today after a sixteen-day hiatus, following the tragic air crash on June 5 that claimed 10 lives.
Scores of passengers took the resumption flight from Wilson Airport and the return flight from Kitale airport, Trans-Nzoia Country, in a vote of confidence for the airline, a subsidiary of Fly540.
Deploying a larger, twin-engine DASH 100 Bombardier aircraft to service the route, the flight took off from Wilson at 06:55hours and touched down 55 minutes later in Kitale.
On the flight deck were pilots Capt Akshai Patel, 28, and Capt Frederick Mbisa, 35, with Judy Mwatha, 28, manning the cabin operations.
The 12-seater Cessna Caravan that crashed over the Aberdares was under the command of Barbara Kamau, 28, whom Patel said he knew well as they had flown the route several times together, among other Kenyan destinations.
"We continue to do what they would undoubtedly have liked us do, and that is continue flying," Patel said.
While the crashed plane did the Nairobi - Kitale route in 75 minutes, the DASH 100 that has a passenger capacity of 37, completes the trip in 50 minutes.
As today's flight broke the low cloud cover, coming into view as it prepared to land, one could not help noticing the air of excitement among the passengers.
There were others awaiting to board it, on its return flight.Stephen Juma from Matunda, Kiminini, was returning to his South Sudan base where he works as a contractor with the United Nations.
"I have used Fly SAX consistently over the past five years and my last flight with them was on Thursday May 31, five days before the tragic crash," he said.
"On that flight I sat across from Robinson Wafula, who was coming home for the long weekend. Wafula died five days later in the same aircraft, a tragedy that left me in shock and unsettled for a week," he said.
He, however, expressed confidence in the airline.
Established about 15 years ago, Fly 540 and its subsidiary, Fly SAX, operate a large fleet of aircraft, doing more than 25 flights daily to destinations across Kenya and the region.
The airline has been on the Kitale route for 10 years. It also flies to Wajir, Diani, Maasai Mara, Eldoret, Mombasa and Entebbe in Uganda.