The National government has embarked on a plan to build an airstrip in every county to boost local air transport. Transport Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera says that the initial plan is to make existing airstrips 24-hour facilities.
Speaking during a graduation ceremony of eight pilots who were sponsored by Mathioya Constituency Development Fund (CDF), the PS said the government is working on making air transport cheap and affordable to most Kenyans, and not just the rich, and establishing new airstrips and rehabilitating others creates a first major step towards that dream. The resultant competition in the industry is expected to push down fares.
He said more investment in aviation industry would create more employment opportunities and challenged youth to pursue aviation related courses in preparation to take up these job vacancies. “Through the high investment by the government in the aviation industry, many job opportunities are coming up and studying any course in aviation industry will enable our young people to secure jobs,” added Mr Nyakera.
He noted that the government will use Ksh3 billion to expand three terminals in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) within a period of eight months while Ksh9 billion will also be used to rehabilitate and reservice Moi International Airport in Mombasa to boost international flights.
JKIA, Nyakera said is currently handling more than 7. 5 million passengers annually from 2.5 million passengers it used to hold two years ago. Mathioya MP Clement Wambungu who was present said the aviation industry will be a big employer in few years to come.
Wambungu, who is a pilot by profession, said the decision by the local CDF to sponsor eight students for piloting course was not wastage of resources as the newly graduated pilots will also support other youth from the area to pursue the course. The CDF, the MP said used almost Ksh25 million to train the eight students until they attained commercial pilot licenses.
Growing demand for pilots
In Kenya, he said the number of pilots is low and those available are being absorbed by international airlines especially those from Middle East. “Last year alone, Kenya lost 92 pilots to Qatar Airways and more may go this year and its only sponsorship like this one by Mathioya CDF where we can get new pilots coming from grassroots,” added the MP.
Announcement by Boeing Company to establish office in Nairobi, he said was a good opportunity for those who have aviation-related courses to get employment. “The Boeing Company has also announced that it will be making 1,150 aeroplanes annually and this indicates there will be demand for more than 10,000 pilots per year and Kenya as a country we should in a position to provide a good number,” he said.