Business / Industries

Nairobi's new terminal a model of international cooperation

By Sean Xiao (China Daily) Updated: 2015-02-09 07:45

What happens when different companies from different parts of the world, used to using different standards, get together to build a major expansion and upgrade to one of Africa's premier airports?

In the case of the international airport serving Nairobi, Kenya, it has been a feat of hard work, debate, learning and, ultimately, pride in achievement. It has been a first for the engineers of Beijing-based AVIC-Intl Airport Construction.

On March 9, 1958, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, formerly called Embakasi Airport, was opened by the last colonial governor of Kenya.

The airport was renamed in honor of former Kenyan prime minister and president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, after his death on Aug 22, 1978. It is Kenya's largest aviation facility, and the busiest airport in East Africa. Its importance as an aviation center makes it the pacesetter for other airports in the region.

Today, Jomo Kenyatta International serves a daily average of 19,000 passengers from Africa, Europe and Asia. Currently the airport cannot meet the growing air traffic needs.

The groundbreaking of a new passenger terminal dubbed the "Greenfield Terminal", with a capacity of 20 million passengers, was held on Dec 3, 2013. It is set to be the single largest terminal in Africa and is to be completed in 2016. The estimated cost is $654 million.

Once complete, the terminal will have 60 check-in positions and 32 contact points and eight remote gates. The terminal is also expected to have an automated baggage handling commercial retail center.

It will have a traffic-handling capacity of 3,133 international passengers, 2,403 transiting passengers and 845 domestic passengers in a typical peak hour. The airport will have an official capacity of 2.5 million passengers but handles an average of 6.5 million passengers every year. Traffic at the airport grows at a rate of 12 percent per annum and is expected to hit the 25 million mark by 2025.

The engineers for the project, including on landside and the airfield side, are from AVIC Airport of Beijing. The architects for the terminal are Pascall+Watson, a London-based firm. Construction of the new terminal will be done by Anhui Civil Engineering Group and China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Corporation. The project supervisor is the Louis Berger Group, a US-based firm.

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