Nov 23, 2018: The official ground breaking ceremony recently at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa, setting the ball rolling for some major improvements to the coast’s main gateway to the world.

The project which is over $70 million includes a new lighting system and repaving on the airside of the airport, among other elements.

An official data suggest that the airport has a capacity of 2 million passengers being used, largely due to the drop in charter flights to Mombasa.

While the number of charter flights has risen over the past 12 months is it still a far cry from the heydays of tourism to the Kenya coast, prompting the tourism sector to repeatedly, and with growing urgency, demand for an opening of the airport to international airlines.

Currently, it is only RwandAir, Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines – the latter notably kept out of Malindi to where the airline could easily operate one of their Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft from Addis Ababa – flying scheduled services to Mombasa with Qatar Airways having indicated they will commence a four flights per week seasonal schedule to Mombasa from mid-December.

Meanwhile, Kenya Airways has continued to refuse routing at least one of their London flights via Mombasa, which according to some leading tourism stakeholders would have been a better option to bring traffic to the Kenya coast after the airlines had to substantially reduce already the much fanfared daily flights to New York.

The project is partly funded by French Development Agency (FDA) and Kenya Airports Authority, with the consultancy service being sponsored by World Bank. FDA is funding 93 percent of the project.