PRESIDENT KIBAKI COMMISSIONS NEW ISIOLO AIRPORT PHASE ONE
President Mwai Kibaki yesterday formally opened the first phase of the new airport in Isiolo. A new hard surface runway of 1.4 kilometres is the first visible sign of the new airport taking shape, due to be expanded to cater for larger jets in the future but for now good enough to accommodate landings and take offs of twin engine turboprops like the ATR or the Bombardier Q series and smaller corporate jets in use in Kenya.
Construction of a new passenger terminal, able to handle up to 600.000 travelers a year, has also gone underway and is expected to be ready for opening in 2+ years from now.
The Isiolo airport is part of crucial infrastructure being created to fulfill Kenya’s Vision 2030 which sees Isiolo upgraded to a resort city, along the corridor of LAPSSET, which will connect the new port in Lamu with South Sudan and Ethiopia by highway, railway and pipeline.
Isiolo is the gateway to one of Kenya’s leading conservancies, Lewa Downs, but also the Samburu National Park, the Buffalo Springs Game Reserve and the Shaba Game Reserve, and beyond Archer’s post by road to Marsabit or the Matthews Range, a pristine wilderness area little explored so far but well know among adventure travelers and of course the acclaimed Kitich Camp by Cheli & Peacock. While airstrips, often grass, dirt or murram surfaced, do exist at Lewa Downs and near a number of camps and lodges, and the airstrip in Samburu itself is tarmacked, it will be the ability to fly larger planes to Isiolo which might bring airfares down and allow greater visitor numbers to see the parks in a part of Kenya formerly known and the ‘Northern Frontier District’.
Present at the function was Kenya Airport Authority CEO Stephen Gichuki and other government officials as well as tourism stakeholders with an interest in the wider area the new airport will serve.
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