Plans to start airlifting fresh produce from Kisumu International Airport have been finalized with the inaugural flight scheduled for January 8, 2022.
This follows expansion of the airport to encompass a cargo handling and cold storage facility through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
The Kisumu Lakefront Development Corporation (KLDC) Chairman FCPA Edward Ouko said farmers and fishermen in Kisumu and the lake region were set to benefit immensely through the new development.
“The development gives hope to farmers and fishermen in this area and signals a pragmatic approach to cooperation, grounded in the priorities of the Kenyan Government at the national and regional levels,” he said.
In a statement to the media after a meeting with various stakeholders at the airport, Ouko said the facility will unite cargo airlines, freight forwarders, farmers, fish traders and airports to identify opportunities, generate new business and add additional frequencies into the market.
The meeting brought together representatives from Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), Kenya Airways (KQ), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
Ouko said KLDC which was gazzetted by Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o last year as a Special Purpose Vehicle to enable the County Government to bring together the public and private sector for economic development was committed to promote investment, trade and tourism through bringing together stakeholders from both private and public sectors to harness the existing opportunities.
The Cold Storage facility owned by a local investor will go a long way in enabling the airport to establish a full-fledged Cargo Division and Cold Chain Logistics.
Farmers are expected to venture into value addition and fish processing to tap into existing markets locally and internationally.
Among the commodities earmarked for export from the airport include avocados, fish, chilies, pepper, mangoes, pineapples, peanuts, traditional green vegetables and organic beef.
“This is set to give us a global competitive advantage because of our unique regional position,” said Ouko.
Last year, the national government allocated Sh. 1.2 billion to expand Kisumu International Airport.
According to Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) Business Development Manager Jimmy Kebati, the ongoing works target to expand the passenger tower building to handle one million passengers per year up from the current 500, 000.
Kebati who spoke to KNA earlier during the launch of the project added that the pavement and taxi apron at the airport will be extended to the old airport to create space for setting up a cargo unit at the facility.
This, he said, will enhance the capacity of the airport which serves the entire western region to attract direct international flights.
He also disclosed that Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways have already expressed interest in flying direct to Kisumu International Airport once the cargo handling facility is completed.
The expansion is expected to be completed by April this year ahead of the Afri-Cities Conference to be held in Kisumu from 17th-21st May 2022.
By Chris Mahandara