The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) will spend Sh350 million to fix potholes at Wilson Airport in a move aimed at reducing increasing number of plane mishaps at the facility.
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director-general Gilbert Kibe told the Business Daily in an interview on Friday that major works on the project will start once local firms with planes exceeding seven tonnes operating at Wilson airport relocate to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Nairobi.
Local air operators have pointed at the potholed runways as the cause of the punctures at the airport that have led to some planes skidding off the runways.
“The immediate requirement for major rehabilitation at Wilson Airport is Sh350 million. This is what we require for now,” said Mr Kibe.
Mr Kibe did not give a specific timeline within which he expects work on the project to be finished. “We are working with the support of the Kenya Airport sAuthority on this project. They are determined to do it,” he said.
Frequent air mishaps involving Wilson Airport-based light aircraft have been on the rise recently, exposing laxity in enforcing safety rules by relevant stakeholders.
The latest incident, which took place a few weeks ago, involved a SafariLink plane carrying 10 passengers which veered off the runway after a tyre burst, leading to the closure of the airport for 30 minutes.
In October, a Silverstone Air Fokker 50 jet skidded off the Wilson runway while taking off on a flight to Lamu. Another mid-air scare also occurred in October when another Silverstone Air plane lost a tyre after taking off from Lodwar Airstrip in Turkana County, indicating that the problem may extend beyond Wilson.
Passenger traffic at Wilson Airport rose by 27.8 percent to an all -time high of 528,000 passenger in 2017, from 413, 146 in 2016, official data shows.
Traffic to the airport, Kenya’s second busiest, increased by 53 percent to 100, 000 in 2017 from 65,000 in 2008.