UKUNDA AERODROME TO GET RUNWAY EXTENSION
(Posted 21st January 2015)
Tourism infrastructure at the Kenya coast, south of Mombasa, will get a major boost when the upcoming expansion of the Ukunda aerodrome is completed. Ukunda has for long served as Diani Beach’s primary airfield from which tourists take off every morning for air safaris to Kenya’s national parks. Equally important though are the daily scheduled flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, operated by Safarilink and others, which depending on the aircraft used on the day can get tourists, and of course local Diani residents, to the capital and vice versa in the space of just over an hour.
The present runway length of about 1.1 kilometre is capable to handle medium sized twin engine turboprop aircraft like the Bombardier Dash 8 operated by Safarilink or even ATR aircraft but was too short for the introduction of smaller jets like the CRJ200.
Kenya Airport Authority has now confirmed that the expansion of Ukunda will include not only the construction of a new terminal building but also the lengthening of the runway to an overall length of 2 kilometres.
This has been made possibly by the acquisition of a plot of land on to which the nearby Mkwakweni Primary School will be relocated. KAA has paid for the land and will, after performing the ground breaking ceremony last weekend, construct an entirely new school. When complete this will allow for the present school buildings to be demolished and make way for the extension of the runway.
Tourism stakeholders with businesses in Diani have expressed their satisfaction that after many years of advocating for an expansion of Ukunda this is now finally falling into place. While the sector faces ongoing challenges will the new facilities, when complete, no doubt help to facilitate additional arrivals to Diani by air and it is expected that scheduled flights to and from Kenya’s main aviation gateway, Jomo Kenyatta International, will be launched to avoid the troublesome transit via the Mombasa airport and onward road transfer across the Likoni channel.
Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from across Eastern Africa.