Cargo and passenger volumes at Wajir Airport are expected to improve due to the rising number of airlines operating there.
In the financial year 2015/2016, the airport had 15,000 aircraft movements and 123,000 passengers.
“We expect the number of passenger movement to increase to 125,000 in the 2016/2017 financial year,” airport’s manager Charles Kionga said.
Located four kilometres from Wajir town and 100km from Gerille border point with Somalia, the airport was established primarily for military activities.
It was commissioned in September 2007 and was initially meant for commercial flights from Somalia which had to undergo security screening and inspection at the facility.
“In 2007 we did not have any local flights. But in 2008 we had our first local flight which made flights once per week.
‘‘Since then, local air operators have shows interest in the airport,” Mr Kionga said.
Local airlines operating in Wajir belong to Sax Company, Freedom Airline and Skyward which make at least two flights per week.
Others are Dubai African Express and Juba Airways which pass through Mogadishu before flying into the airport. No local products are being transported through the airport.
However, with the completion of an abattoir for meat export to the United Arab Emirates and other Middle East countries things are looking up to the facility.
“They intend to use cargo flights from this airport to carry out this business. We expect growth in revenue from cargo flights, pack houses for meat export and cargo transit sheds,” Mr Kionga said.
The airline is a major source of employment. Mr Adan Bishar, who owns Simran Travel Agency, for instance, earns a commission of Sh500 from each customer travelling from Wajir to Nairobi and Sh1,000 from passengers travelling from Nairobi to Wajir.
He makes travel arrangements for up to 30 customers or more per day during holidays. “From this business I am able to fend for my family and meet my other needs,” he said.
Mr Aweis Ismail, a taxi driver who is also drawing his livelihood from the airport, echoes his sentiments.
“I charge each customer between Sh800 and Sh1,000 from the airport to town, four kilometres apart. I am assured of income every day ,” he said.