Kenya gets Sh16 billion AfDB loan for new JKIA runway project

JKIA in Nairobi
A Kenya Airways plane at the JKIA in Nairobi. File Photo
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a Sh16.5 billion loan for the construction of a second runway at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, setting in motion a project that seeks to nearly double the movement of aircraft in East Africa’s largest airfield.

The Wednesday approval paves the way for construction works to commence in the second half of next year, according to the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).

AfDB infrastructure director Amadou Oumarou said the runway, which will be longer and wider than the current one, will enable JKIA to handle bigger planes that ply intercontinental routes as Nairobi prepares to welcome US direct flights.

“The 2nd runway will support more air traffic and facilitate increased tourism and business travel and expedite two-way cargo traffic,” Mr Oumarou said.

The proposed JKIA second runway, whose design was funded by the African bank, is 4.8 kilometres long and 75 metres wide – a significant improvement from the current runway that has a length of 4.2 kilometres and a width of 60 metres.

KAA managing director Johny Andersen had in January said that the second runway estimated to cost Sh37 billion would nearly double the movement of aircraft from 25 to 45 per hour thus minimising delays caused by mishaps on path.

READ: Nairobi JKIA is getting a new runway at a cost of Sh37 billion

“The new runway will be an upgrade of the existing one (which was built in the 1970s). This will be a category two runway that conforms to international standards,” Mr Andersen said.

The technology of the proposed facility, according to KAA, will meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Category II specifications, which will enable operations in bad weather thus avoiding diversion of aircraft.

“This is an ICAO Code F runway which can handle the new generation extra wide bodied aircraft like Airbus A380 and Boeing B747-800,” KAA said in a statement.

JKIA expects to handle slightly over 17 million passengers annually by 2020, with growth expected to accelerate to 35 million passengers by 2030.