#Ukunda airfield upgrade takes a major step forward


(Posted 19th January 2019)


Work to upgrade the Ukunda airfield to a proper aerodrome have been going on for some time now as demand for flights to one of Kenya’s prime beach areas south of Mombasa continues to rise.
As was reported here in the past has the Kenya Airport Authority started the exercise with a relocation of a school, which stood in the way of a runway extension. A longer runway is needed to allow for larger aircraft – presently only planes to the size of a Viking / Bombardier Q400 can land in Ukunda – to safely land and take off when carrying a full passenger load.
The use of smaller jets like Bombardier CRJ’s, Airbus A220 and Embraers is seen as the key to further unlock Diani’s tourism potential as larger numbers of passengers per flight could fly directly into Ukunda instead of taking the bothersome and often disruptive detour via Mombasa.
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, in short KCAA, has now installed a key piece of new equipment, valued at about 150 million Kenya Shillings, namely a mobile control tower which will now watch over incoming and outgoing traffic during the 12 daylight hours the Ukunda airfield presently operates.
KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe expressed his satisfaction when he was quoted to have said that ‘We are investing in the safety, security and efficiency of the aviation sector. This mobile tower will mitigate against service disruptions, incidents or treats within the air space‘ before adding that Ukunda had of late seen more traffic than other established airports in Kenya.
Tourism operators from the Diani / Ukunda area and beyond have expressed their appreciation over the move by KCAA to install such crucial equipment and are banking on ever more arrivals by air into Diani by travelers from Nairobi, further upcountry and the wider region, who can now connect via Wilson Airport, but also via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, to the Ukunda airfield.
In fact, one operator, Safarilink, combines their daily flights from Wilson to Ukunda with a stop at the Vipingo Ridge – Kenya’s only PGA Golf Course – before heading back to Nairobi, further adding options for visitors.

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