Kenya: Calls for Miraa Traders to Move to Isiolo Airport

Cargo operators want miraa export shifted from Jomo Kenyatta International and Wilson airports to Isiolo, citing inadequate aircraft parking space.

International Air Cargo Association director Sanjeev Gadhia said they need more parking space at JKIA, which serves 25 cargo airlines.

"The only way we can create parking spaces is to clear operators who can be served at another airport," said Mr Gadhia, who is also the CEO of Astral Aviation, a regional logistics firm.

"We have a lot of aircraft flying to Somalia, and there is a need for a designated airport for them so they can serve their clientele," he added.

Miraa and horticulture traders from Meru and Laikipia counties use the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport instead of the Isiolo International Airport that was reopened last near.

However, miraa operators say they are not ready to move from JKIA to Isiolo airport.

Speaking to The EastAfrican, Nyambene Miraa Traders Association chairman Kimathi Munjuri said the infrastructure and operating hours of Isiolo airport do not fit the business.

"The runway at Isiolo airport is short and cannot accommodate our aircraft. The airport needs to operate 24 hours a day like JKIA. We transport our long haul shipment of miraa at 2am for it to arrive in different towns of the Somali market early in the morning," said Mr Munjuri.

Somalia is the main destination for Kenyan miraa with approximately 20 aircraft fly to Somalia daily carrying at least six tonnes of the crop and another 10 fly weekly between the JKIA and Aden Adde airport to ferry passengers.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director-general Gilbert Kibe said plans were underway to move operations to Isiolo.

"What is required for miraa transportation out of Isiolo airport is meeting with operators, Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to see what kind of incentives they could be given to operate out of Isiolo. That is a work in progress," said Mr Kibe.

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