(eTN) – The long-awaited tender documents for a brand new terminal building at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) have been published, opening the door for international bidding to go underway.
The stand-alone new facility, which is expected to be connected to the existing terminal buildings by bus service, will, when ready, offer up to 50 check-in counters, 8 air bridges for aircraft to dock – including meeting the specifications to serve the giant A 380 – and a further up to 45 aircraft parking stands on the linked apron space, also due to be constructed alongside the terminal, plus links to existing and new taxiways and an additional runway.
The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was officially launched in 1978, witnessed by this correspondent, and emerged from the former Embakasi Airport, now the headquarters of Kenya Airways, which at the time was bursting at the seams and where the story goes that it was impossible to fall down considering the mass of human beings in the arrival and departure hall.
When opened, JKIA was to cater to a maximum of 2.5 million passengers, now exceeded by more than twice as many, as statistics of 2010 speak of over 6.2 million passengers being herded through overcrowded facilities. The country’s tourism industry had highlighted the constraints of JKIA and of Moi International Airport in Mombasa as key elements in NOT allowing the country to reach its full potential of visitors while airlines have often voiced their equal concern over having just one runway at both airports, leading to full closures following an incident on the runway, as has happened on several occasions in the past.
More and more airlines, which want to fly to the region’s most important hub airport, find themselves restrained by lack of slots during peak hours, thus limiting traffic, passenger, and cargo shipment growth and delaying Nairobi’s bid to further cement its superiority in aviation statistics across the region.
The past tenure of the Kenya Airports Authority’s (KAA) Chief Executive was riddled with allegations and caused immense delays in implementing the JKIA development master plan, but under the new regime these constraining circumstances seem to have been overcome and finally some movement is now visible. Current works on the airport are also ongoing at a reportedly increased pace, according to some airline sources from Nairobi, but this has in the past been seen as cycles, at times accelerating and at times slowing down again.