NAIROBI, Nov 29 (Reuters) - The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $160 million loan to Kenya for building a second runway at the main airport in the capital Nairobi, the bank said on Wednesday.
The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has a single runway and plans for a second one were first announced in 2013 to boost Kenya’s standing as a regional travel hub.
Kenya Airways, the national carrier, carries about 4 million passengers a year. The airport is also used by other global and regional carriers including Emirates, Qatar and British Airways.
JKIA, which serves as an aviation hub in the region, opened in 1978 with an annual passenger capacity of 2.5 million.
The construction of new terminals in the last four years has boosted that to 6 million. The second runway and the refurbishment of existing terminals is expected to raise that to 12.5 million passengers to serve the country until 2023.
“For a hub like Jomo Kenyatta Airport you really have to have a second runway,” James Macharia, the transport minister, told reporters earlier this month.
“The one we have today is 90 capacity utilized so if we grow further you will find we will be having a jam.”
AfDB said the new runway project would involve building a 4.9 km runway and associated infrastructure such as extra parking slots for aircraft and an air rescue firefighting unit.
The airport is run by Kenya Airports Authority, a state body which operates the public airports in the country. (Reporting by George Obulutsa and Duncan Miriri, editing by David Evans)