Kenya’s newest airport coming up in Maasai Mara

Maasai Mara National Reserve

Tourists at Maasai Mara National Reserve. KAA has started upgrading Angama Airstrip which is situated in the game reserve.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has started upgrading Angama Airstrip in Maasai Mara, Narok County into a fully-fledged airport in a bid boost tourism in the country.

The project, which will be executed in three phases, will involve rehabilitation of the airstrip’s 1,260-meter long runway and its expansion from 18 meters to 23 meters, as well as construction of a new apron and fencing during the first phase.

The authority said the upgrade is meant to enable the airport handle huge aeroplanes — code C aircraft — after attaining international airport standards.

It will become the newest international airport in the country after Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Mombasa’s Moi International Airport, Eldoret International Airport and the Kisumu International Airport.

The upgrade of Angama Airstrip will happen on 44.7-hectare land within the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which was acquired from Manati Limited by the National Land Commission (NLC).

Major milestone

“Today marks a major milestone in the partnership between tourism and the aviation industry in line with the government’s approach to foster development across the country,” said Transport PS Solomon Kitungu on Tuesday.

The PS said upgrading of the airport will not only boost tourism, but also Kenya’s economy and trade through growing the aviation industry.

In 2018, KAA allocated Sh691 million for the upgrade of six airstrips in the country, all of which are located in various counties, with the aim of boosting domestic connectivity.

“The plan is to expand the airstrip to modern standards to increase traffic inflows into the Masai Mara Game Reserve,” KAA’s Wilson Airport and Northern region Airports manager Joseph Okumu said in June.

Boost Narok’s revenue

The upgrade of Angama Airstrip is expected to boost Narok County’s revenue collection and local trade, and backs the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) report early this year that counties with game parks and reserves have been performing relatively well than their peers, in own source revenue (OSR) collections.

Narok County has been collecting over Sh1 billion in OSR, most of it coming from charges at the parks and reserves, and the economic activity tourists bring.

During launch of the airstrip’s upgrade Tuesday, KAA Managing Director Alex Gitari noted that the authority is focusing on improving airports infrastructure to attract “new services, new routes and new airlines to the different tourism destinations in the country”.

The authority reported that the process to upgrade Lanet Airport in Nakuru County is currently at 11.81 per cent, having started in February, and is expected to be complete in August 2022.