Kenya has embarked on a project to refurbish and upgrade the country’s second largest airport to attract more international flights.

James Macharia, cabinet secretary at the ministry of transport, said Tuesday the 7 billion shilling (about 69 million U.S. dollars) project at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa will be undertaken for 24 months.

“It is therefore of paramount importance that we continue to invest in this airport to make sure that it maintains its excellent safety record, and to enhance the efficiency of its operations,” Macharia said in Mombasa during the commissioning of the project.

Macharia said the works include rehabilitation of the entire runway pavements, reconstruction of some sections of the taxiways and aprons, replacement of pre-cast concrete slabs and installation of an elaborate lighting system.

Other works include drainage works improvement, slope and ground stabilization.

The average lifespan of a runway is 20 to 25 years and the last major rehabilitation was done in 1994.

Kenya Airports Managing Director Jonny Andersen said the infrastructural projects will boost passenger numbers.

French development agency AFD will provide 65 million dollars for the project; the World Bank provided 900,000 dollars for the project’s consultancy services; Kenya Airports Authority will cover the balance.

The airport is serving the coastal area and is the principal port of entry for tourists, business travelers and others visiting the region, both from within and without the country.

According to Macharia, the capacity of the airport is over 2 million people but currently it only handles 300,000 people. The upgrade will enable the airport to operate at its maximum capacity.