Naikuni told a public forum on Saturday that the fire has been turned into an opportunity. A new arrivals terminal is being built that will upgrade the airport's security — by separating arriving and departing passengers — and allow direct flights to the United States, perhaps beginning in 2016.
Naikuni said the airline's new plane acquisitions will increase the airline's capacity by almost 50 percent, a "big, big increase."
Africa appears set for an air travel boom based on its large, young population and its rising middle class. A November report from McKinsey Global Institute called "Lions Go Digital: The Internet's Transformative Power in Africa," said the continent has 16 percent Internet penetration and 167 million total users. In a decade, penetration is predicted to be at 50 percent with 600 million users.
Naikuni believes that will all translate into more airline passengers.
The continent's youthful population "is very curious, curious to travel, to find out what's beyond the borders," he said.