Africa: No New Airlines in Kenya as Aviation officials plans How to handle growth


The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) is considering a freeze on new operators at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta and Wilson Airports due to pressure on the existing infrastructure.

KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe said the board was planning the expansion of the airports before taking on new airlines.

“Wilson Airport is seriously congested, JKIA is also becoming congested. We need new airport development to add taxiways and parking bays. There is no point of having so many operators coming in when our airport infrastructure cannot handle them efficiently,” he told the Modern Airports International Conference in Nairobi this week.

“We should consider perhaps a moratorium on licensing of air services until the airport infrastructure can handle the increased traffic.”

Air operators however said a freeze would slow down the growth of the aviation industry, give unfair advantage to some operators and increase the cost of air transport.

Kenya Association of Air Operators chief executive Eutychus Waithaka, while noting that the move would disadvantage operators, welcomed it, saying “the airline industry is built on safety.”

Full capacity
He said that Wilson Airport is in bad shape, congested and in need of expansion. The airport handles 182,500 landings, takeoffs and training flights annually.

Last year, JKIA recorded 207,831 domestic landings and takeoffs.

Data shows that JKIA is operating at full capacity, handling 7.5 million passengers annually, hence the need for new terminals.

The airport is still attracting global airlines raising fears of further congestion.

There are 41 carriers operating to and from JKIA, all using a single runway. This has been blamed for delays in takeoffs and landing. Parking stands have been increased to accommodate 43 aircraft, up from 23.

Wilson airport has nine designated parking bays. There are also other bays spread in the 33 aircraft hangars. The airport has 350 aircraft movements per day and over 200 air operators.

KAA’s head of corporate planning Henry Ogoye said diversion of funds is to blame for the poor development of the aviation industry.

“The problem is politics. Members of Parliament want an airstrip in their neighbourhood and that is where the problem starts. A critical facility is denied resources just to suit the political class,” said Mr Ogoye.

“We have engaged the government on a policy on expansion of facilities.”
Every year, the government allocates $10 million for expanding aviation facilities.

By Maryanne Gicobi

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