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Kenya’s first international airport 

The first international airport in Kenya was established in Naivasha back in the 1930s. It was in Lake Naivasha. At the time the flying boats, a type of fixed-winged seaplanes with a hull that allowed them to land on water, were used for long-distance flights.

Lake Naivasha was identified as an airport by the first long-range air transport company in Britain, The Imperial Airways. The choice was based on the lake’s unique position, which made it easy to mark, and its depth which was estimated to be about six meters.

Also Read: The Largest Airport in the World by Area as of 2021

The lake was also isolated. It was of no interest to fishermen after a series of ecological slipups in 1926 that saw the introduction of a voracious predator that diminished fish species. Moreover, Naivasha had one of the best railway stations and networks in the region, making the location even more favourable.

Initially, the Naivasha International Airport was meant to serve as a stopover along a mail-only route to Cape Town. However, three months later from January 1932, the route was opened to passengers. It took approximately a week for a flying boat from Britain to reach Naivasha and ten days to Cape Town.

In addition to Imperial Airways, the airport was also used by British Airways which was formed in 1935. In 1945, the two airlines merged to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and continue operations in Naivasha.

Unfortunately, in the 1950’s, Lake Naivasha International Airport closed down.

Why Kenya’s First International Airport closed down

After World War II, or rather the Second World War, a global conflict that lasted between 1939 and 1945, the flying boats began to be replaced by land planes. Consequently, land airports were constructed to replace the water airports.

Lake Naivasha International Airport would be replaced by Eastleigh Airport, currently Moi Air Base. The airport operated as the main international civilian airport from 1945 to 1958. In 1958 the newly constructed Embakasi Airport known today as the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport opened.

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