Malindi International Airport has extended its operation time to midnight to allow airlines wishing to operate at night to do so at the facility, Airport Manager, Mr. Mohamed Karama has said.
Mr. Karama, who was speaking during a Kilifi County Development and Implementation Committee (CDICC) meeting at the County Commissioner’s boardroom Wednesday said the airport now opens from 5.00 am to midnight daily.
He said the national carrier, Kenya Airways, had already taken advantage of the extension and has a flight that takes off from the airport at 5.00 am and another that lands at midnight daily.
“Kenya Airways flights now take off at the airport at 5.00 am and land as late as midnight,” he said in response to concerns raised by members, who claimed that the airport closes too early despite its international status.
Mr. Karama at the same time discounted a notion that the airport was unable to receive large airplanes due to the shortness of its runways, explaining that the current runways is adequate for the landing of large aircraft.
“The airport is able to receive large aircraft direct from Europe with the existing runway, which also take off easily as long as they are not fueled in Malindi,” he said.
He explained that the large aircraft headed to Europe usually take off with passengers, but they have to fuel at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa where there are adequate runways to allow fully loaded aircraft to take off with ease.
“All kinds of aircraft are able to land safely as they will have burnt all their fuel, but taking off while full of fuel may be a bit risky. That is why we prefer that large planes leave Malindi and land at the Moi International Airport for fueling before flying directly to Europe,” he said.
Mr. Karama at the same time said the re-surfacing of the runways and the building of a new apron at the airport had been completed at a cost of about 350 million and planes were already using them. He said KAA spent Sh300 million for the apron and Sh50 million for the runway.
“The apron is ready for use but it still needs to be marked,” he said adding, “However, we have started parking aircraft on them.”
Mr. Karama at the same time asked the committee and the county government to help it secure a buffer zone on the Kisumu Ndogo (western) side of the airport where he said people were constructing buildings too close to the airport’s fence, thus causing a security risk.
“Though the land does not belong to KAA, we need a buffer zone of not less than 30 meters from the fence,” he said.
Mr. Mutindika directed the Malindi Sub County Security Committee to immediately visit the airport and advise the CDICC on the way forward regarding the matter.
A Kenya News Agency survey later established that some buildings had been constructed as close as three meters from the fence.
By Emmanuel Masha