Commercial flights launch at Lichota airstrip usher in new era for Migori County

Ida Odinga with Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen at Lichota Airstrip in Migori County on September 13, 2023. [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

The commencement of commercial flights at Lichota airstrip has heralded a promising new era for Migori County.

This is after Skyward Express Airlines scheduled weekly flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, connecting the county with other regions, and igniting opportunities for trade and tourism.

Skyward Express will operate scheduled passenger flights that will provide residents and tourists with direct access from Migori to Nairobi, thus reducing the travel time to just one hour.

The introduction of the flights has been warmly welcomed by Migori, residents who have long yearned for improved transportation options.

"The coming of the scheduled passenger flights will help us cut costs on transportation," said Kuria West MP Mathias Robi.

With the new development, Migori has been scheduled to have six flights a day, one from Skyward Express and other airlines.

Passengers who made their first flight to Lichota airstrip from Nairobi termed the journey comfortable.

Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen and Ida Odinga alight from a Skyward Express Airline plane at Lichota Airstrip in Migori. [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

"We had a smooth journey from Nairobi and the air hostesses who served us were very professional," said Migori First Lady, Agnes Ayacko

Ayacko travelled alongside Ida Odinga and a host of leaders drawn from Migori County.

Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen, who led the launch, said the schedule will simplify travel for Kenyans.

CS Murkomen revealed that there were plans to expand the airline from its current 1.2 kilometres to 1.7 kilometres.

"This will enable the county to get even a bigger aeroplane running here. It will transform this into an airport and will carry bigger aeroplanes," said CS Murkomen.

For cargo transportation, CS Murkomen recommended traders dealing with perishable goods and horticulture products be engaged and the airstrip be opened for cargo exports.

He promised to have roads in Migori County that could promote trade within the region be constructed in partnership with the African Development Bank.

The CS indicated that there were plans for the airline to operate in Kitale and Garissa when the towns' respective airstrips are ready.

Ida Odinga with Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen at Lichota Airstrip in Migori County on September 13, 2023. [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

Governor Ochilo Ayacko, on his part, expressed his commitment to ensuring that flight tickets remain affordable for all residents.

Skyward Express plans to charge a fare of Sh8,600 per flight. All the flights for the week had been fully booked.

According to Governor Ayacko, Migori County is now primed for increased economic and social activities, marking an end to the isolation that residents have endured.

“Today marks a momentous occasion for Migori County as we welcome the dawn of a new era in transportation,” said Governor Ayacko.

The governor extended an invitation to residents, tourists, and business travellers, to take advantage of the new flight services.

Speaking after the launch, Skyward Express Chairman, Captain Mohammed Abdi, said the domestic passenger airline, which has been operational for the last 10 years, will be flying from Migori to other parts of the country.

It recently opened routes to Malindi, Kakamega and Kitale.