KAA to rehabilitate Wilson Airport
The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has announced plans to revamp and rehabilitate Wilson Airport.
The plan, according to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Director General (DG) Gilbert Kibe will involve the repair of taxiway, aprons and the runway.
However, Kibe who represented KAA at a Wilson Airport stakeholder forum last week said before work can begin the facility will be decongested by moving large aircraft to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIAA).
The facility, Kenya’s second busiest was meant to handle 500,000 passengers a year, but the number has exceeded the limit, toping one million per year, said Kibe. In 2017, passengers using the airport were 528,000 an up from 413,146 recorded in 2016, while aeroplane traffic increased 53 percent to 100,000 up from 65,000 in 2008.
Lately, the facility has witnessed a number of aeroplane incidents, notably from Silverstone Airlines, whose planes in early this November either skidded off the runway or crashed into another. Stakeholders have also raised concern over the state of the facility’s runway, which they say has potholes.
Kibe was speaking today at a media briefing on the status of the Kenyan aviation sector, which he said was a major contributor to job creation and increased trade with other countries. The airport is used by Mira traders to transport the perishable commodity to Somalia.
In his update, Kibe said passenger numbers grew by 9.5 percent to reach 12.1 million in 2019, up from 11 million the previous year, with the data capturing all airports for both international and domestic flights.
“The increase in passenger traffic was attributed to a 12.3 percent growth in domestic passenger numbers and 7.6 percent in international passengers,” said Kibe. Low cost carriers facilitated the domestic passenger growth.
In the period under review, transit traffic grew by 8.2 percent while freight traffic increased by 11.1 percent from 331,327 tons to 368,128 tonnes.
Kibe said in the financial year 2018/19, Kenya had a total number of 1,547 registered aircraft and over 10,500 licensed aviation personnel in addition to 70 air operators. This growth has warranted need for additional staff to enable the regulator better perform its oversight responsibilities.
“We have a shortage of inspectors and are in the process of seeking approval from the board to recruit an additional 100 in the short term,” he said.