JKIA expasion to increase in air passengers in Kenya - CNBC Africa

JKIA expasion to increase in air passengers in Kenya

East Africa

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

The expansion and modernisation of East Africa’s largest airport has seen an increase in air passenger capacity. PHOTO: Kenyan Store

The ongoing work at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi has resulted in a 200 per cent increase in passengers annually to 7.5 million.

During the unveiling of a new terminal to the press, Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) managing director Lucy Mbugua said Kenya is on course to reaching ‘world class status and positioning the airport as a preferred hub for Africa.’

“We have a number of other projects that are ongoing and in different stages of implementation. The task at hand now is to ensure that JKIA meets the projected demand in order to enable the airport effectively play the role as a gateway to the region,” Mbugua said.

KAA reported to have spent more than 50 billion in the expansion and upgrading of the airport so as to ease congestion at East Africa’s main air travel hub.

(READ MORE: Kenya airport refurbishments underway)

“Aviation plays a critical role in the economy as an enable. By availing capacity to meet demand, we will be able to unlock stifled demand in other sectors of our economy,” Mbugua explained.

Meanwhile, US aviation officials have expressed optimism of establishing a direct link between Kenya and the US in the course of this year for direct flights.

US-based Delta Airlines and Fedex have uttered interest in starting operations to Kenya. However, all Kenyan airports are obligated to attain Category One status before the US government approves the deal.

In addition to address the issue of insecurity in the country, the government has injected 1.3 billion Kenya shillings in new security equipment to be installed later this year to enhance airport screening. Last year, Kenya received security equipment from the US government.

(READ MORE: Kenya launches electronic system to cut trade red tape)

The direct flights are expected to boost trade between the two countries. This is as imports from the US to Kenya rose significantly by 152.7 per cent, the fastest growth the East African country has recorded. Kenya imported goods worth 1.5 billion US dollars in 2014 according to data from the US Department of Commerce. The significant growth was the highest among the US top 10 trading partners in the continent.

In 2014 Kenya’s exports to the US increased by 26 per cent to 520 million US dollars. US also rose to become the largest consumer of Kenyan exports in July.