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Kenya Airways pleads for better airport

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 –  Kenya Airways has appealed to the government to hasten the modernisation of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in order to stimulate the carrier’s growth.

KQ Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni complained on Wednesday that congestion at JKIA was negatively affecting the airline causing them to incur unnecessary costs which were in turn slowing their growth.

“The government has the obligation to ensure the development of infrastructure. As a user I’m saying, get me a working airport! If that airport had been modernised, KQ would have offering much better services,” he said.

The Kenya Airports Authority has since September 2006 been undertaking the modernisation of the airport, whose capacity for passenger traffic and cargo volume had exceeded its initial design.

The upgrading of the JKIA facilities which was to be carried out in three phases to avoid disruption of the airport’s activities is projected to serve customers’ needs for the next 16 years.

Mr Naikuni added that they expected the current global turmoil to affect their projections for passenger traffic particularly from outside Africa. This, he explained was because the credit crunch had negatively impacted the disposable incomes of many foreigners which would translate in reduced movements.

Commenting on the continued global fuel price drop, the CEO said their clients could eventually expect to pay lower fares should the prices continue on their downward trend.

“The traveller will see an impact on the reduction of fuel at the right time when it starts to make economic sense for us to pass on the drop to our customers. At the moment it is not possible because we were hedged and this does not end the day fuel prices start to go down,” he added.

Mr Naikuni spoke during the launch of three KQ apron buses that will be used to ferry passengers between the JKIA lounges and their aircraft.

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The buses, which were supplied by Xinfa Airport Equipments from China have a capacity of 115 passengers each and are expected to facilitate safe, convenient and quick movement of passengers across the airport.

“The construction and opening of new remote parking bays which are far away from the airport terminal buildings has made the buses an absolute necessity,” he explained.

Mr Naikuni said third party airlines contracted to KQ would benefit from the Apron Transport Services while other interested carriers would receive the service at a fee.

“We intend to order another two or three buses to complement these ones. We believe that as the airport and the airline continue to grow, you will see more of these kinds of services,” he forecasted.

The airline also announced that it had partnered with mobile phone operator Zain Kenya which would advertise its services and products on the buses.

Zain Managing Director Rene Meza said that the partnership would enable them to reach a wider audience across Africa.

“KQ has a rich network in Africa that has seen it carry millions of passengers. Through this partnership we will now be able to reach this wide customer base with messaging about our ‘One Network’ service which is available across 12 countries,” Mr Meza said.

At the same time, Mr Naikuni revealed that they would take delivery of two Boeing 787 aircraft later this month and early January after delays following a strike by workers of the plane manufacturer.

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