History of Jomo Kenyatta Intl. Airport

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The Old Embakasi Airport was constructed in the mid-1950 and was opened in 1958 to serve the first generation Boeing 707/DC8 aircraft. However during its first decade of independence, Kenya experienced dramatic commercial, social, cultural and political development. As passenger traffic shot up from 0.25 million in 1960 to over 1.5 million, it became apparent to the Kenyan government that the capacity available at Embakasi Airport would not be able to handle the long-term traffic demand.

Consequently in 1968 the Kenya Government commissioned Sir Alexander Gibb & partners (Africa) to make a series of detailed reports covering air traffic forecasts, a feasibility study and master plan of the future development of a new airport.

In February 1972 an agreement was signed between the World Bank and the Kenyan Government, which provided a loan of US$ 29 million towards the financing of modern airport facilities which would be adequate for the future traffic demands. Embakasi Airport was ideally situated some 18kms from the Capital City Nairobi, on the flat and open Athi Plains. The approaches for aircrafts were excellent, free of built up urban areas. It was thus decided that a new Airport be built within the same area, and the existing runway to be retained. That land is reserved for the ultimate construction of a parallel runway to the south east of the existing runway.

A total of five separate concepts for the passenger terminal were investigated on the basis of potential performance and cost. The final choice of concept for the terminal was made as a result of planned meetings by the Government of Kenya and a Joint Airline Consultative Committee.

On March 14, 1978 Embakasi Airport closed its doors to the public, and its runway to aircrafts. At exactly 2.15pm Jomo Kenyattta International Airport took over its operations. During those hours , scores of officials from the Kenya Aerodromes Department, the Directorate of Civil aviation, Airlines, Oil companies, Port Health, Customs, Police Immigration and others transferred their base of operations, and a new era in the history of the Aviation industry in Kenya began.

Named after Kenya's first President, JKIA today is the biggest Airport in East and Central Africa, and is also the focal point for major aviation activity in the region. Its importance as an aviation center makes it the pacesetter for other airports in the region.

Last Updated on Sunday, 18 November 2012 02:50  

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