Travelers from Nyeri region can now fly directly to Nairobi after the county government launched the first maiden flight at the Nyaribo Airstrip.
At Sh3,000 per trip, tourists, business people and other travellers will get to the capital city in less than 25 minutes compared to taking a three-hour journey by road.
The first flight landed a few minutes to midday Saturday.
On board was Nyeri Deputy Governor Carol Karugu, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, Land PS Nicholas Muraguri, businessman Amos Ngonjo among others.
They were received by the Governor Mutahi Kahiga.
The governor said the flight would increase efficiency in the transport system and promote trade and tourism in the county.
“These direct flights will reduce the time taken to and from Nairobi. We are very proud to launch the first flight in Nyeri’s history,” he said.
With a growing use of planes as a means of travel, Mr Kahiga said the flights could increase to two daily.
“We are calling upon the national government to help us equip the airstrip into a modern facility of higher standard,” he said.
Nyaribo Airstrip is 15 minutes’ drive from Nyeri town with a 1.2 kilometre runway capable accommodating even bigger planes, according to Mr John Ndiritu, the owner of Bushfire Tours and Safaris Company.
He said the airstrip is in a good condition to conduct business on a daily basis moving passengers from not only Nyeri to Nairobi but to any point of the country.
He further noted that the aviation industry is doing very well in the country which is prompting investment in the rural areas to diversify on modes of transport both for people and farm produce.
“The Sh3, 000 we are charging is just to entice clients to use planes in place of matatus because it is more convenient. But as our clientele grows, we could raise the charges by Sh1,000 as well as increase the number of flights per day,” added Mr Ndiritu.
CS Mucheru said planes will take off from Nyaribo at 6:30am and will land at the Wilson Airport.
“It was a great experience; there were good views of both Mt Kenya and the Aberdares and we are hoping to expand the services countrywide,” he said.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu urged the county government to ensure that people working at the airstrip are from the region.
“First opportunities should go to the residents of Nyaribo so that we can improve the economy of the area,” he said.
The airstrip which has remained idle for years save for a few politicians landing there, had its first customers in 2011 when military planes landed there during the opening of the Nyeri ASK show.