KISUMU AIRPORT SET FOR COMPLETION

Following news a few days ago that Malindi’s airport construction was nearly complete and the commissioning of the new facilities, i.e. passenger terminal, shops, restaurants and the new control tower was only weeks away, was additional information sent to this correspondent over the weekend that Kisumu’s airport too was now counting down to the end of construction work on terminals, the expanded runway and other facilities.

Catapulted to international fame when President Obama, whose paternal relatives live near Kisumu, was elected to the presidency of the United States, Kisumu has long been in the shadow of other cities and municipalities in Kenya when it came to economic development but its elevation to city status a few years ago and keen interest by domestic and international investors in agriculture, the fishing industry and tourism has changed much of that.

Investments will now see a boost from the new aviation facilities, as larger planes can finally land in Kisumu, also allowing for direct flights from abroad, while connections with Nairobi are now at a record high, with national carrier Kenya Airways operating three daily frequencies while Fly540 and Jetlink too are flying on the route. The longer runway will also at last allow for direct export by air of fresh fish fillets to the consumer markets in Europe and the Middle East, as wide bodied cargo planes will be able to take off with full load to their final destination, similar to the ‘sister airport’ across the lake at Entebbe. This is thought to also open the door for export of agricultural products like fruits and vegetables, which in the past needed to be trucked to Nairobi for processing, giving a boost to agro investments in this fertile part of Kenya.

Some good news at last for the Kenya Airport Authority, which has been struggling with an image of incompetence vis a vis its management of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and the slow pace of construction work there.

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