(eTN) – Information received overnight from Nairobi talks of over 100 international and regional construction companies expressing interest in the tender documents available from the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) for the re-development of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) into a first-class international airport with the capacity to handle an intermediate 9 million passengers a year. Groundbreaking is due for early 2012, and the construction of the new terminal and surrounding facilities should be completed within 24 months.
Built in the late 70s and opened officially in 1978, taking over from the old Embakasi airport, which now serves as Kenya Airways’ head office and maintenance base, the airport at the time was state-of-the-art, but the maximum capacity of only 2.5 million passengers has long been exceeded.
Congestion now marks all facilities at the airport, as over 6 million travelers are crowded through departure and arrival lounges, while the single runway is seen as a major capacity and operational constraint.
National carrier, Kenya Airways (KQ), set to double its fleet over the next few years, is said to be very keen to see construction of the new terminal and final planning for a second runway completed on the fast track, and there has long been speculation if KQ would not eventually be compelled to build their own integrated terminal where international and domestic departures and arrivals could be handled under one roof without having to change terminals.
International airlines also continue to have a keen eye on flying to Nairobi, especially from the Far and South East where there are vast gaps in the route network of direct flights to Nairobi. Japan, Australia, or Singapore are just three countries with the potential to uplift passengers and cargo on scheduled flights to Kenya. Other airlines already flying to Nairobi also regularly complain about their working conditions and their problems to add more flights in view of the ever tighter slot regime now in place for Nairobi. Recent power outages and runway blockages have added further pressure on the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) to press ahead with the airport’s modernization and expansion.