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New JKIA terminal three weeks away

Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport is set to reaffirm its position as East Africa’s aviation hub when a new temporary terminal is opened at the end of the month.

Terminal Two, a prefabricated facility that has been built in six months, gives the airport the capacity to handle an additional 2.5 million passengers annually.

Kenya Airports Authority managing director Lucy Mbugua said completion of the terminal will allow JKIA handle the rapidly growing air traffic until the 20-million passenger capacity Greenfield Terminal is completed in 2018.

The airport is expected to handle seven million passengers this year from last year’s 6.5 million, with the new terminal handling most of the domestic and regional passengers.

“It gives us some relief as we build the Greenfield Terminal. We will thereafter use it for another eight years here or in another airport,” Ms Mbugua said.

The facility has been built at a cost of Sh1.7 billion, enabling KAA to save Sh600 million from the initial budget of Sh2.3 billion. It has been financed by the African Development Bank.

DOMESTIC TRAFFIC

All domestic traffic will from March 1 be handled through the new terminal. This will free Terminal 1D, which currently handles domestic passengers, for upgrade.

Ms Mbugua said Terminal 1D will be temporarily closed for renovation, including the building of new lounges on the top floor.

“The work will take four to five months before some airlines are allowed back in,” she said.

A number of small regional airlines are said to have shown interest in operating from the no-frills Terminal Two that allows them a quick turnaround time.

The terminal has 24 check-in counters that will serve passengers who will be separated into different waiting lounges after security screening.

The facility has six boarding gates – two for domestic and two for international flights – leaving two more gates that are designated as ‘swing gates’ to be used during peak traffic hours.

Boarding and arriving passengers will use buses to and from the airplanes to maximise use of limited airfield capacity.

The new terminal can handle up to nine flights an hour and comes with six parking bays.

It also comes with an upgraded, three-stage baggage screening system similar to what has been installed in the new Terminal 1A, which can screen 1,200 bags an hour.

SCREENING MACHINES

Eric Kiraithe, the general manager in charge of airport security, said the new screening machines come with enhanced capacity to detect explosive materials, drugs and contraband goods.

On average, it is expected that screening will take three minutes while Immigration will take another three minutes to go through passengers’ paperwork before one is cleared.

The new terminal, which has VIP lounges, duty-free shops and restaurants, can be dismantled and reassembled in another airport if required. It takes two months to dismantle the facility and another six months to re-assemble.

German firm Röder HTS Höcker won the contract to build the temporary facility in the wake of a fire that razed down the international arrivals terminal in August 2013.

While Kenya Airways and its partners have been using Terminal 1A that opened last year, other airlines use the parking garage for international arrivals.

“We will stop using the parking garage as an arrival terminal mid this year when the two arrival terminals currently under construction are completed,” Ms Mbugua said.

Demolition of the gutted terminal is also on-going and is expected to be complete in the next two months.

JKIA has undergoing major expansion works, including construction of the Greenfield Terminal and a second runway to keep it ahead of regional competitors and to keep pace with the growing traffic.

The airport handles most long haul flights entering or leaving the region. The building of a second runway is expected to commence next year.

Kenya’s premier airport continues to handle a growing number of airlines and could receive more traffic if an audit scheduled for March allows the launch of direct flights to the United States.