KAA TO LAUNCH SECOND RUNWAY CONSTRUCTION AT JKIA THIS YEAR
(Posted 16th July 2013)
A regular source close to the Kenya Airport Authority has given the clearest indication yet that the construction of the long overdue second runway of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, East Africa’s largest aviation hub, will still commence this year to meet the target of the new Greenfield Terminal coming on line by the financial year 2016/17.
The project was repeatedly delayed under the last government mainly due to theatrics and gimmicks by former transport minister Amos Kimunya, who kept meddling with the board of KAA and got unduly involved in many aspects of the procurement and contracts before finally being defeated in the last general election and put into the political cold. The new Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael Kamau, was however swift in clearing the mess left behind by his predecessor and got the project back on track after sacking Kimunya’s oversight committee and giving the KAA board and management the green light to proceed with due haste.
The project is estimated to cost over 650 million US Dollars at current prices and completion, when ground is finally broken, will take at least 3 ½ years. Opened in 1978 by Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta, the airport was build to accommodate 2 million passengers and with nearly 7 million passengers arriving, departing and transiting in Nairobi the capacity constraints have cost Kenya dearly as more airlines than ever before wish to fly to Nairobi but find themselves restricted by the lack of suitable slot times, parking for aircraft, enough air bridges, lack of office space and overcrowded departure and arrival terminals.
The construction of Terminal 4, costing an estimated 10 billion Kenya Shillings and adjoining the present semi circular terminal building housing units 1, 2 and 3, has also been delayed as a result of similar reasons and will bring temporary relief to JKIA until the new Greenfield mega terminal opens in a few years time.
Statistics of recent years suggest that JKIA, even under the current capacity constraints, has seen traffic grow by over 10 percent a year and the new facilities will no doubt unleash the full potential of traffic growth, which by 2020 will see three times as many passengers compared to this year.
Most important for Kenya’s aviation industry however is the expected effect of the airport expansion for national airline Kenya Airways which is looking at tripling their fleet by 2021. Their strategic plan ‘Mawingo’ talks of 115 destinations by that year, compared to just over 60 now, clearly hinging their own expansion on the timely completion of the completion of the second runway and new mega terminal, to which Kenya Airways and partner airlines will move when it is ready.
The new government of President Uhuru Kenyatta has earmarked tourism and trade as key components to achieve a double digit economic growth and aviation has been recognized as a cornerstone in this equation, for shipping cargo in and out of Kenya and to receive more and more visitors from abroad to generate the projected 3 million arrivals by 2015. Watch this space for regular updates on aviation news from the Eastern African region.