The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) will next week open two new terminals at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) ahead of an April audit that may determine the facility’s upgrade to category 1 status by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The new arrival terminals 1E and 1A’ are expected to be commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta next Tuesday, marking a major step in the ongoing expansion and modernisation of the regions busiest airport where passengers arrivals are expected climb to 864,959 by 2016 from 823,770 last year.
The KAA acting managing director Yatich Kangugo, said the new terminals would boost operational efficiency as well as safety and security.
“It is all part of our commitment to deliver on our promise to offer world class service efficiently and effectively to our different stakeholders and the people of Kenya that is why we are opening these new terminals,” said Mr Kangugo.
The government says that most of the requirements set by the International Civil Aviation authority (ICAO) have been met, paving the way for the airport to be upgraded to category one status that would allow for direct flights between Nairobi and Washington.
Kenya has been implementing a raft of recommendations by the US government to enhance security, among them separation of passenger arrival and departure terminals, clearing the flight path and fencing off the airport.
The Attorney-General is also expected to forward the draft Civil Aviation Bill 2015 to Parliament, the main key task that is remaining in paving way for direct flights.
The proposed legal change is one of the conditions Kenya is expected to fulfil before the start of direct flights in May.
The Bill, if passed by Parliament, will take away most of the powers that have been vested on Cabinet secretaries and transfer them to the head of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) as one of the conditions set by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Transport Secretary James Macharia said Kenya is still on course to achieving category 1 status, pointing out that they will be making a major announcement next month in regard to the direct flights.
Direct flights from Kenya are likely to operate between Nairobi and New York or Washington DC. Currently in Africa, there are direct flights to US cities from Senegal, South Africa and Lagos.
Kenya largely imports medical engineering equipment, industrial products, air craft engines and chemicals from the US while exporting textiles and perishable products such as flowers and vegetables to the market.
Kenya’s trade with the US is mainly anchored in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) initiative, which was crafted to expand duty-free access of more than 4,000 product lines to the world’s largest economy.
Kenya and other African countries have enjoyed easy access to the US market using the Agoa window since 2000.
Several Kenyan products, notably apparel and agricultural produce, are big beneficiaries of this arrangement which has lifted import duty on all eligible African products and granted preferential market access upon compliance with Rules of Origin.