Aviation experts familiar with international travel procedures have dismissed State House claims that the President was forced to make a u-turn due to fighting in Yemen.
Instead, they blame the Air Force for failing to obtain in advance essential air space clearance.
An advance team from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs went to Los Angeles, US ahead of the President.
Cabinet met on Wednesday instead of the norm, Thursdays, and preparations for his departure to arrival in the United States were done in advance.
Sources told Citizen TV that the Air Force department of flight planning and logistics should have sought and obtained diplomatic clearance for the President’s flight path way before the expected date of the trip.
The flight plan maps out countries to be crossed through and clearance is done through diplomatic links.
Questions on route taken by plane
And so, did someone sleep on the job and expose the Head of State to the embarrassment of having to abruptly turn back and eventually cancel his trip?
The official position given from State House read; “following reports of increased military activity in Yemen, there was a challenge on the routing leading to a decision to turn back.”
But that was a red herring. Harambee One, the Kenya Airforce Fokker 70 carrying the Head of State, is said not to have been cleared on Ethiopian airspace over clearance issues.
However, there is the route taken that comes into question as well.
Long standing hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia mean that one cannot access Eritrea through Ethiopia, unless they would pass through airspace in between.
The plane carrying the President was warned to turn back but that did not happen until another warning, sources say, came with a threat to bring the plane down if the captain did not comply.
Friday morning, National Intelligence Service Director General Philip Kameru and Air Force Commander Maj. Gen Samuel Thuita were summoned to State House, and all indications point to a likelihood of serious disciplinary action being taken on individuals behind the apparent lapse and aborted trip.
Kenya’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Catherine Mwangi was summoned to Nairobi as well, and how this saga plays out in the greater Ethiopia-Kenya diplomatic relations is to be watched in coming days.