Kenya’s newest mega airport finally opens for business

 Isiolo International Airport
The Isiolo International Airport on July 23, 2017. PHOTO/COURTESY
Kenya’s much anticipated, much delayed new airport, Isiolo International Airport, has been launched, signaling the beginning of passenger operations at the Sh2.5 billion facility.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who commissioned the airport on Sunday, said the facility will open up the Northern Kenya tourism belt to grow the number of tourists in the region, thereby boosting the local economy.

“This airport is a catalyst to economic development that will come with the expansion of tourism and creation of quality job opportunities,” he said.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) chief executive Johny Andersen, Transport Principal Secretary Paul Maringa and Isiolo county commissioner George Natembeya had recently given the facility a green light to begin handling domestic flights.

“We will be able to handle international flights but we expect gradual development of other carriers, for now, the facility will start operation with domestic flights,” said Mr Andersen said during the final inspection tour of the facility last month.

Two local airlines, Fly SAX and Fly 540, have already set up offices at the Isiolo International Airport in readiness to begin their operations.

Isiolo airport, the first international airport in northern Kenya, is expected to open up the region for tourism and other economic possibilities.

The airport, which sits on 330 hectares, is a Vision 2030 flagship project and has a 4,500 square metre passenger terminal capable of handling 125,000 passengers annually.

The Isiolo International Airport
Earlier construction works at the Isiolo International Airport. PHOTO/FILE

Isiolo International Airport Facts & Figures

  • Current capacity up to 125,000 passengers per year
  • 4,500 square metre passenger terminal
  • 5,000 square metre floor area
  • Sits on 330 hectares; 3,501 feet above sea level
  • Its runway is 2.5 km long
  • Isiolo airport is a Vision 2030 flagship project

The project’s upgrade, which has been underway since February 2013, followed the July 2012 completion of the construction of a 1.4 kilometre runway, an apron, two taxiways, patrol road, fencing and runway safety works at a cost of Sh700 million.

READ: Work on Sh60bn Lamu-Isiolo road set to start next month

The latest phase of the project has been undertaken by Northern Construction – a local contractor – and it involved extension of the runway to 2.5 kilometres from the current 1.4 kilometre and the extension of the apron to accommodate nine large planes instead of three.

Extending the runway means a heavy commercial aircraft such as a Boeing 737 would be able to land at the airport since the facility has the capacity to handle maximum take-off weight.

The Isiolo International Airport is a key part the Lapsset Corridor project, an economic and transport passageway that stretches from the Lamu Port to South Sudan and Ethiopia.