Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the biggest airport and the busiest in East Africa, it is located in Nairobi the capital city of Kenya. It is in Embakasi suburbs 18 kilometres southeast from the central Business District. It has flight scheduled for different destinations all over the world, flying to more than 50 countries. The park was initially known as Embakasi Airport, it was changed to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in 1978 to honour the first president and prime minister of  Kenya Jomo Kenyatta. There are other three International airports ,Kisumu International Airport, Moi International Airport, and Eldoret International Airport. The plans of establishing a airport was initiated way back in 1945. The British who colonised the East Africa countries, had to weigh between rehabilitating the existing Eastleigh Airport or constructing a new airport.

The British decided to establish a new Airport at Embakasi with much of the work which was to be done on the run way being done through forced labour by Mau mau rebels . They were subjected to a lot of hard work for the British wanted to complete the airport using the shortest time possible. Majority of those Mau Mau rebels died on the site due to the exhaustion. Many of the workers on this site are reported to have committed suicide or self mutilation due to poor working conditions. There are other two airports within Nairobi which are Wilson Airport and Eastleigh Airport. There is clear Visibility of the run way with little obstruction and on a clear day it is possible to see Mount Meru in Tanzania  which is 220 kilometers, Mount Kilimanjaro  which is 213 kilometers and Mount Kenya.

It was opened on Sunday 9 March 1958 by the last colonial governor of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring.  The Queen Elizabeth the mother was suppose to attend and grace the occasion, but her aircraft developed a problem in Australia and the Queen failed to attend the ceremony.

The runway was improved from 2,432 meters marram runway of Eastleigh which was difficult during the rainy months ,the Embakasi Airport was improved to 3,048 meters.


Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has two terminals, at terminal 1. This Terminal is divided into four parts arranged in semi circular arranged in 1A, 1B,1C,and 1E. This Terminal is used for international arrivals and departures, The Terminal which is used for both domestic arrivals and departures is Terminal D. Terminal 2 is used by low cost carriers with the other original Terminal also referred to as Old Embakasi is used by Kenya Air force.

Records from Kenya Airport Authority show that the Terminal 1-A has a capacity of 2.5 million passengers with the Kenyan government targeting 25 million by 2025. This Terminal has 30 checking in counters, within it are 12 departure gates, and several food retail shops. At the arrivals point there are 5 baggage carousels, this area is used mainly by sky team airlines.

Within Jomo Kenyatta international there is also Terminal  1B which has check-in counters with security check points to  process for the departure of passengers.

Terminal 1C this Terminal is commonly used as check ins counters , it has security checks that leads to departure lounge on level 1. At this point of level 1 ,it has duty-free shops, a cafe, Kenya Airways Simba Lounge and the Turkish Airlines lounge.

Terminal1D , this is used for domestic flights serving both arriving and departing passengers. It is occupied by Jambojet and its parent company Kenya Airways.

Terminal 1E, this is used purely for international arrivals, this Terminal was opened to serve passengers arriving on airlines that are out of Terminal 1B and 1C.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

On the second floor of Terminal 1A there are several lounges such as; The Simba Lounge, Pride Lounge, the two lounges can host at least 350 people.  There are also Lounges that can be accessed by elite status or a paid-pass such as Swiss port Aspire Lounge and Turkish Airlines TAV Lounge.

Other offices and facilities within the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are; Amaica  at Terminal 1A level 2 which is a restaurant offering Kenyan and African cuisine. Hardee’s American fast food chain outlet at Terminal 1A. It hosts the head office of American Express Airways and the head office of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).

Some of the Airlines operating at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

  • Air Arabia
  • Air France
  • Air India
  • Air Mauritania
  • Air Tanzania
  • African Express Airways
  • Egyptair
  • Daallo Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Air link
  • China southern Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Ethiopia Airlines
  • Jambojet
  • Jubba Airways
  • Fly540
  • Kenya Airways
  • Malawi Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • KLM
  • Precision Air
  • LAM Mozambique Airlines
  • Qantas Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • RwandAir
  • Saudi
  • South African Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Uganda Airlines

Cargo Airlines at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are:

  • Cargolux
  • Emirates sky cargo
  • Astral Aviation
  • Martinair
  • Lufthansa cargo
  • FedEx Express
  • EgyptAir cargo
  • Singapore Airline Cargo
  • Saudi Cargo
  • Qatar Airways cargo
  • Network Airline Management
  • Turkish cargo
  • Silk way Airlines

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has its main entrance at Airport south Road, which can be accessed from Mombasa Road highway or the 2022 Nairobi Expressway which connects the city with the Airport with no turn or traffic. There is also an option of travelling to and from the city by Bus Route Number 34, a Taxi or by a Rented car services which are readily available. A proposal has been made for a link from Nairobi commuter Rail network has been proposed.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport ( JKIA) is under the management of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).It has an elevation of 1624 meters and it is a hub for Kenya Airways,  Jambojet, Fly540 and African Express Airways.

How to access the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

The Airport is 18 km from the Nairobi Central Business District and the approximate time through Mombasa Road is 30 to 60 minutes. You can also use the Expressway toll road which is 25 minutes and less busy than Mombasa Road. The toll of the Expressway, you have to pay at JKIA Station. A public bus transport operates the city to the airport terminal 1and 2, bus number 34.

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