JKIA fire a huge blow to Kenya’s economy
08 August 2013, 13:58
Nairobi - Officials at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport say they will build a makeshift international arrivals terminal within days.
"What is key is the speed at which this is normalised. If they can pull a rabbit out of the hat and get international flights moving they may bail themselves out," said Aly Khan Satchu, a Nairobi-based analyst.
"If this drags on it's going to damage Nairobi's regional hub status."
The fire, which destroyed a large part of the international departures section, was a blow to Kenya at the start of the peak tourism season. The airport was operating at more than twice its 2.5 million passenger capacity.
Kenya's horticulture industry, a major foreign exchange earner for east Africa's biggest economy, said it was preparing for possible losses after cargo planes were grounded.
"We still haven't flown any produce out. We are waiting to see what rolls out today. In the meantime, (we are trying) not to bring any more produce out until we see what happens," Jane Ngige, chief executive officer of exporters association Kenya Flower Council, told Reuters.
While construction workers worked on a new terminal at the airport, which will not be finished for months, white tents were erected outside the domestic flights terminal to try to cope with an influx of international travellers.
Some of the challenges facing Kenya were underscored by angry passengers who were at the airport early on Thursday when the first international flight landed from Bangkok.
"There is no info," said Jonathan Cross, a British tourist flying with Ethiopian Airlines. "I was expecting there would still be delays but I was expecting at least someone to be here to give us information."