Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Kenya is set to receive US $70m from the government for an upgrade project in bid to improve the airport’s safety and efficiency.
Speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony, Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, said the project, which targets refurbishing the airside pavements and airfield lighting system, hopes to attract more charter planes to Mombasa.
“This is the main airport serving the Coastal region, and accounts for over 80% of international tourists visiting Kenya. However, it does not operate at its maximum capacity. Currently, we have 15 charter flights coming to Mombasa every week, up from nine last year. But Moi International Airport cannot rely on charter business alone, we need more international scheduled airlines,” said Macharia.
Tourism CS Najib Balala said the airport has capacity to handle over two million passengers annually but it only gets 300,000 per year. Kenya Airport Authority CEO Johny Andersen said the works will include rehabilitation of the runway pavements, reconstruction of parts of the taxiways and aprons and removal and replacement of precast concrete slabs.
The project will be funded by French Development Agency (FDA) and Kenya Airports Authority; with the consultancy service being sponsored by World Bank. FDA will be funding 93% of the project while KAA will cover a balance of US $5m
Currently, Ethiopia Airline, Rwanda Air and Turkish Airline are the only ones operating to Mombasa. Balala challenged Kenya Airways to start direct flights from Mombasa to London. Qatar Airways is expected to start direct flights to Mombasa in December.
The airside pavements and airfield ground lighting system project will take two years to be completed while the restoration of pavements is expected to give it a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.