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JKIA set for brief repair closures daily

The runway at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi will be closed for maintenance a few hours daily for the next one year.

The landing strip will be closed between midnight and 6am beginning April 1 to the same date in 2016, according to a circular by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

The daily temporary closure will allow for the rehabilitation of the existing pavement which has been worn out and has become increasingly inefficient.

“We will be laying a new layer on the old runway as the previous one is heavily worn out. We have made arrangements with the different airlines to reschedule any flights expected in this six hour period,” Mr Francis Ngigi, the lead engineer of restoration projects at Kenya Airports Authority said.

EFFECTS ON KQ

The closure of the runway may further sway the reeling Kenya Airways which posted an after tax loss of Sh10.4 billion in the half-year ending September 2014.

Other rehabilitation works that will also start on April 1 on the runway include the upgrading of the approach lighting system, installation of an aeronautical ground lighting and guidance signs for the landing strip.

Aviation authority communications manager Mutia Mwandikwa said he did not have specific information on the impact the closure will have on business, but speculated the effect will not be much.

“Most of the flights that take off at those hours are cargo flights. This is because the air is denser at that time and therefore the plane needs less power and consumes less fuel. But I do not have the official information on the flights that will be affected,” he said.

SECOND RUNWAY

Mr Ngigi said that work is also underway on a second runway for the airport although the project is still in the design phase and actual construction will begin later in the year.

JKIA is the largest airport in East and Central Africa and is served by 49 airlines with direct flights to Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and Africa.

According to the airport’s flight status report, between midnight and 6am yesterday, 24 flights landed at JKIA while 22 others left for destinations such as London, Istanbul, Doha, Frankfurt, Guangzhou and others.