Moshi airport to reopen after years of idleness

What you need to know:

  • The airport, which is a short distance from the heart of the Moshi Municipality, is undergoing massive rehabilitation which will enable it to increase flights

Moshi. Moshi airport, which has largely been off the radar of aviation-related activities for years, will soon be operational.

The facility, which is a short distance from the heart of the municipality, is undergoing massive rehabilitation which will enable it to increase flights.

Completion of the civil works costing Sh12.3 billion in November this year is also set to promote tourism and other economic activities in the area.

“The rehabilitation has so far reached 35 percent,” said Ms Neema Mwasha, an engineer from the National Road Agency (Tanroads) responsible for airport projects.

She said during a recent visit to the site that the rehabilitation has reached 35 percent and that November 18th, will be the completion date.

The multi-billion shilling project is wholly funded by the government and that a total of Sh12.3 billion was budgeted for the purpose.

Rehabilitation will cover the key components of the airport being a runway, taxiway, apron, terminal building, the lighting system and the parking lot.

“The main purpose of major renovations is to increase the number of flights,” she told journalists as she made an inspection tour of the facility to assess the progress made.

Mr Benitto Mdzovela, a supervisor with Tanroads regional office in Kilimanjaro said the lightning system at the airport would also be improved in all airport components.

These will include lights on the runway, the apron,the terminal building and adjacent structures to facilitate safe landing and takeoff of aircrafts.

The entire airport area, which is close to a high density neighbourhood in Moshi, will be fenced to minimise intruders to the area for safety of operations. The Tanroads official was, however, not clear if the rehabilitation would enable the facility to commence night flights in anticipation of increased traffic.

Moshi airport is one of the oldest in the country dating back to the British colonial era having been established in 1954.  Before the opening of the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) in the 1970s, it used to be a gateway to the country’s northern tourism circuit. 

At one time, it was known as Moshi Aerodrome and King George VI Playing field. It was then the closest aerodrome to the majestic Mt Kilimanjaro.

Even as KIA swung into action - taking its market share - the airport was operated under the ministry of Works until 1999 when the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) was established.

Despite a market loss to KIA and repeatedly upgraded Arusha airport, Moshi facility maintained a small passenger terminal that offered basic facilities, including check-in counters, waiting areas and a VIP lounge.

It also has a small parking area and a helipad while awaiting plans to expand and modernize the airport’s facilities to meet the growing demand for air travel in the region.

Business analysts say rehabilitation would enable the facility to serve as a crucial gateway to the country’ northern circuit which attracts thousands of tourists annually.  Besides the potential to offer direct flights to popular destinations such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Zanzibar, its proximity to Mt Kilimanjaro also makes it a popular starting point for climbers and hikers seeking to conquer Africa’s highest peak.