KQ resumes flights to Eldoret airport after 10-year hiatus

Roads CS Kipchumba Murkomen hands over the Kenya Airways flag to Uasin Gishu County Governor Jonathan Bii during the re-launch of Kenya Airways flight at the Eldoret International Airport yesterday. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Kenya Airways (KQ) has resumed flights to Eldoret International Airport after a 10-year hiatus.

Speaking during the relaunch of the flights, Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) Kipchumba Murkomen lauded the move, terming it a milestone in the transport sector.

He said the national carrier’s flights to Eldoret will resume five days a week - Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Murkomen said KQ is a strategic carrier that aims to bolster regional connectivity and facilitate access to global markets, making it possible for the country to become accessible to various parts of the world.

“We made a promise to Kenyans that we will ensure that air transport is accessible and affordable. Relaunching KQ flights here is happening in a bid to open up Kenya and allow trade and business to bloom. Today, we have direct flights from 12 airstrips across the country,” said the CS.

Eldoret becomes KQ’s 44th destination, after Mogadishu. The CS emphasized the strategic importance of restoring flights to Eldoret, the North Rift’s economic hub. “We are beginning our launch with five times flights a week and we are looking forward to having 14 flights in a week in the future,” stated Murkomen.

He urged KQ to position itself and attract more customers from the region including athletes, businessmen and students.

“Sports play a very important role here. Agriculture, industrial parks, encouraging value addition, business and investment will bring traffic here. Hospitals like Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, which offer leading services and attract medical tourists even as expansion of the hospital is in place should position themselves to attract more customers,” he stated.

He added that plans are in place towards expansion of the runway by more than 400 metres to 4.2 kilometres.

“In future, we should be able to have direct flights to other continents. It should be possible to have direct flights to cities across Africa and even to western countries” the CS explained.

“It is possible and cheaper and more affordable to travel from Eldoret to other countries rather than travelling to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) first before connecting to other flights.” With Eldoret town set to be conferred city status in the coming months, the transport CS said plans are in place to construct an Eastern bypass to further de congest the town and ease travelling of people and transportation of goods.

KQ Chief Executive Allan Kilavuka attributed the return of the flights in Eldoret to the growing demand, adding that it will woo both business and leisure travelers. 

“We are complementing the Jambo jet, which has been in operation here over the years. We also have space for cargo and are ready to be of service to the business community,” said Kilavuka.

He said the relaunch of flights to the City of Champions marks a significant milestone in the airline’s post-Covid-19 recovery journey.

“By connecting Eldoret to our extensive network, we aim to stimulate growth and foster lasting socio-economic development in the region,” he said. Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii, Elgeyo Marakwet’s Wisley Rotich, Bungoma’s Kenneth Lusaka, Nandi Deputy Governor Eulita Mitei and Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa are among the leaders who attended the relaunch.

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Governor Rotich said the return of KQ is instrumental in boosting sports tourism in the region. “We rely on sports tourism and this will boost our activities in Elgeyo Marakwet,” said Rotich.

Governor Bii said there is a need for the airport extension to cater for the growing demand. “There is an opportunity to expand international flights since many residents, especially students seeking further education abroad have to travel to JKIA before they can get direct flights,” he said.

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