The partial closure of JKIA’s only runway began at midnight last night and lasted to 6am to make way for major rehabilitation work. The 6 hour closure will be done every night for the next one year.
A source at Nairobi’s JKIA says there were no problems during the first night of the closure. “It was just like any other day, no worries,” he said.
JKIA’s runway is 4,117 meters long, 45 meters wide and has 15 meter paved shoulders, making it a code E runway capable of handling aircraft as large as the Boeing 747.
The Instrument Landing System (ILS) is International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Category I, meaning that it has some limitations in operation during bad weather.
The ongoing runway work will involve upgrading the ILS from ICAO category I to Category II. This will be done by enhancing Airfield Ground Lighting (AGL), including introduction of centerline lighting on the runway. With the upgrade, suitably equipped aircraft will be able to use the runway during bad weather.
Furthermore, the runway works will involve construction of rapid exit taxiways and extension of parallel taxiways to the end of the runway. This is expected to increase runway capacity.
JKIA’s runway was last resurfaced in 1992. The tarmac used on the runway has a recommended life of 15 years meaning it is long overdue for replacement.
The runway upgrade work is part of the Northern Corridor Transport Improvement Project financed by the World Bank.
An Airport Consultative Decision Making Committee (A-CDM) comprising stakeholders and airport management has been formed to ensure smooth operations during the 1 year of partial runway closure. The A-CDM will report to a management steering committee chaired by the Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director.
Notices on the daily runway closure were sent out early as January, giving airlines adequate time to adjust their arrival and departure schedules. The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) says that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) was notified.
KAA has however advised travellers to arrive at the airport 4 hours prior to their flights due to an anticipated increase in congestion. Furthermore, KAA is urging the public to avoid leaving their cars at the airport so as to reduce congestion.