Coinciding with the arrival of Kenya Airways’ new B777-300ER, the Kenya Airport Authority sanctioned trial runs in the new Terminal T1A, formerly referred to as Terminal 4.
National carrier Kenya Airways will begin to use the new terminal facility when it is finally cleared for opening in a few weeks’ time, even though it is understood that work will continue until late this year or even early next year before full functionality has been accomplished. The corrugated iron sheets, which shielded the view of the new terminal when driving into the airport departure area has also been taken down, allowing the general public for the first time a full view of the extensive new building.
Information received from Nairobi yesterday afternoon confirmed that Cabinet Secretary for Transport Eng. Michael Kamau, was shown around the new building by the CEO of the Kenya Airports Authority Ms. Lucy Mbugua. Kamau had earlier in the year raised hopes that the new terminal would be ready when he announced an opening date in early July, but aviation personnel working at JKIA have since confirmed that a number of areas are still not ready, in part for the late tendering of services and equipment and in part for reasons related to construction delays.
The new terminal will add a capacity of at least 2.5 million extra passengers to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, and a further capacity boost will come on line when the so-called Temporary Terminal has been assembled.
Alongside the new Terminal T1A have additional aircraft parking bays been constructed, making more room for the additional aircraft recently received by Kenya Airways.
It was in fact Kenya Airways which came to the aid of the Kenya Airport Authority when processing a ‘test flight’ which was being checked in at the new terminal, simulating a passenger handling scenario which in coming days will be repeated over and over again to make sure the system is a go when limited operations will commence in a few weeks’ time.
Speaking at the same event, Kenya Airways CEO Dr. Titus Naikuni commented: ‘The partial opening of Terminal 1A will be a huge step towards efforts to expand and modernize JKIA and transform it into a world-class hub of choice in the region’.
Once the trials are successfully completed will Kenya Airways, according to information received from a source close to the airline start operating up to four commercial regional flights daily for the next couple of weeks after which there will be a review of operations between the KAA and Kenya Airways to ascertain when the terminal is ready to see operations gradually increase and handle more flights.
Watch this space for upcoming announcements when airlines will begin to move into the new terminal and start processing passengers, no doubt led by national carrier Kenya Airways which has been working under difficult conditions since the fire in August last year, which destroyed the arrivals section of the airport where KQ’s two lounges were located. The new terminal will offer passengers new premium lounges, restaurants and more open spaces compared to the crowded environment which presently prevails in former Units 1 and 2, now renamed into T1B and T1C.