• Driving down Waiyaki Way within Nairobi City, you are likely to notice the phrase ‘I Love NBO’ emblazoned on the upcoming Global Trade Center Towers.

    For years, residents and visitors of the city in the sun have often differed on what the abbreviation of its name should be, with locals insisting that it should be ‘NRB’ and not ‘NBO’.

    Muhabarishaji.com has since established that the abbreviation of the city’s name is directly linked to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and its standing on International Air Transport Association (IATA) codes.

    To understand the difference, we need to look back at the history of the leading East Africa’s Airport and a major connecting point for flights.

    The entrance of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in August 2017.
    The entrance of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in August 2019.
    Muhabarishaji.com

    Plans to construct the airport date back to 1945 but actual construction kicked off in 1953. By 1958, the construction work was completed and the facility then named Embakasi Airport.

    In 1964, its name was changed to Nairobi International Airport and after further expansion to its terminal beginning 1972, the facility was renamed to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in honour of the country’s founding President Jomo Kenyatta.

    By the time Embakasi Airport, which was the sole airport connecting Nairobi to the outside world, was being constructed, another airport, Naval Station Mayport (NS Mayport), in Florida had already been assigned the NRB code by IATA.

    NS Mayport, which is a military base in Florida, US, with the capacity of handling aircrafts, was built in 1942, three years before the idea of constructing an airport in Kenya was conceived. Kenya then had to be assigned NBO.

    What are IATA Codes

    An IATA Airport code is a three-letter geocode used by the organisation in designating airports and metropolitan areas.

    The organisation is tasked with working together with airlines across the world to promote their reliability and safety. It was founded in 1945 and had a membership of only 57 airlines but has since expanded to 290 airlines in 120 countries.

    IATA was also responsible for abbreviating Kenya Airways to KQ instead of KA. Kenya Airways was converted from East African Airways after Korea Airways had already been assigned the KA abbreviations.

    An aerial view Nairobi, Kenya's capital city
    An aerial view Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city
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