The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) expects to complete a 1 billion Kenyan Shilling ($11.5 million) expansion project at the Manda Airstrip in Lamu shortly, in efforts to increase tourist numbers.
The KAA believes completion will happen over the coming months, and that the first passenger aircraft may begin using the airport as soon as May of this year.
The expansion project – which was launched two years ago – includes the construction of a two-kilometre runway to allow larger aircraft to land at the port city, a new terminal building, additional water supplies and fencing, as well as a new fire station to serve the airport.
It is hoped that the expansion will attract more international airlines to fly directly to the port city, cutting out the need for passengers to change flights mid-route.
Alwy Ghalib vice chairman of the Lamu Tourism Association explained the decision to expand the existing airstrip saying: “We expect tourists to fly directly from their countries to Lamu instead of making cumbersome connection from Nairobi and Mombasa,” reports Business Daily.
Ghalib added that hopes are that Lamu will become a direct flight destination even for routes starting in Europe, Asia and the USA.
According to the acting manager of the Manda airstrip Ali Godana, major airlines such as Kenya Airways have already requested permission to fly to the new airport on completion.
The airstrip currently caters for 300 passengers per day, with the expectation being that this figure will double as more tourists flock to the area once access is made easier by the airport transformation.