Kakamega Airstrip Wednesday received an inaugural commercial flight with Skyward Express pledging to operate daily flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to the Western Kenya region.
The Airstrip was commissioned by President Dr. William Ruto during his tour of Kakamega County last week after rehabilitation of the runway, taxiway and an expanded apron at a cost of Sh174.7 million.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua early Wednesday flagged off the flight from Wilson Airport with the airline taking 45 minutes to land in Kakamega town.
Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa, welcomed the airline noting that it was a big milestone that will open up tourism activities in the Western Kenya region.
The Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director Alex Gitari said the government will follow through to expand the airstrip’s terminal building to commensurate with the business the government is targeting to offer through the initiative.
He said KAA is working aggressively in line with the government’s vision of improving air connectivity across the country by commissioning airstrips in Migori and Kitale in the coming days, with those in Nanyuki and Lanet nearing completion.
“The Kenya Airports Authority will expand the runway to allow for bigger landing field. If you look at the terminal building it does not commensurate with the type of business that we are supposed to be doing. We will expand the terminal building particularly to allow for a departure facility,” he noted.
KAA Western Regional Manager Selina Gor applauded the management of Skyward Express for being an exemplary, focused and effective airline offering turnaround time in decision making.
“This inaugural flight by skyward express will strengthen the Lake Region economic bloc and Kakamega’s position as an entry point into Western Kenya,” she noted.
The manager promised the airline government’s support in creating a conducive environment for them to operate their business.
“We recognize that Kakamega County has not had scheduled commercial flights since May 2014.Consequently, we take this opportunity to call upon the leadership of Western Region to reaffirm Skywards confidence in the region and support their airline,” she added.
The Chairman of Skyward Express Mohammed Abdi welcomed other airlines in the region to offer competitive prices that will be affordable to the locals.
He said the airline operates in other counties such as Uasin Gishu, Turkana, Lamu, Mombasa.
Those traveling from Kakamega to Nairobi’s Wilson airport will be able to connect flights to Eldoret, Lodwar, Diani in the south coast to Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu.
“This is a perfect match for us to enable us to link Kakamega with the rest of the counties we operate from. The connection will make us able to fast track development activities in line with what the county has planned,” he explained.
He said they will ensure convenience, reliability and will maintain affordability on the fares on the different destination places. The airline will also deliver parcels.
Barasa urged land owners neighboring the airstrip to be ready to surrender their land to facilitate the expansion of the airstrip to accommodate more aircraft’s.
“I welcome all other flights to Kakamega and welcome our sons and daughters to now invest at home. We now have a very accessible means of transport,” noted the governor.
The airline is charging Sh5,999 per person for one-way journey.