The Ethiopian Airports, on Wednesday announced that, it was making a massive investment on airport infrastructure to support the nation’s socio-economic development.
The sixth annual Africa Airport Expansion Summit was held at the Addis Ababa Radisson Blu Hotel. Endris Argaw, Marketing and Business development manager of Ethiopian Airports, disclosed that his company was undertaking the construction of seven regional airports. Hawassa, Semera, Jinka, Bale Robe and Shire are some of the regional airports which are under development. Endris said in addition to the regional airports under construction, Ethiopian Airports has started the construction of airfields for 7 new additional airports. Nekemt, Dembi Dolo, Mizan Aman, Metu, Dbremarkos, Yabelo and Negele Borena airfields are underdevelopment.
“The Ethiopian government is committed to develop air transport service in the country. As a result, ten regional airports have been built in the past ten years,” Endris said.
According to Endris, airport infrastructure is critical for sustainable growth and inclusive development. “It stimulates the major demand driver for passenger and cargo development.”
With the fast growth of air transport industry in Ethiopia, the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is congested with increasing passenger traffic and aircraft movement. Tekle G. Yohannes, managing director Ethiopian Ground Services, said the existing passenger terminal, which was meant to handle six million passengers per year, is currently accommodating close to ten million passengers. “Very poor airport infrastructure, inadequate airport facilities, overcrowded terminal and unsatisfactory passenger transfer experiences are the major competitive disadvantages as compared to hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Istanbul,” Tekle said.
To curb the existing setbacks, Ethiopian Airports is expanding the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal at a cost of USD 363 million. Endris stated that, the project includes the expansion of the existing passenger terminal buildings terminal one and two and the construction of new VIP Pavilion to handle about 22 million passengers annually with associated equipment system. The project will see the existing terminal floor area increase from 48,446sqm to 122,721sqm. It is expected to be completed in 2019.
Endris told The Reporter that, the project is 55 percent completed. However, he said the new terminal building will be partially open for service as of June 2018. Endris believes that the project will mitigate the terminal congestion and transform the airport infrastructure and various services provided at the airport.
“The USD 363 million project is in full swing,” Tekle said. “When completed, we will potentially own one of the best airport hubs in Africa and improve our customer satisfaction,” he added.
Ethiopian Airports currently administers 23 airports, four of them are international and 19 airports are handling scheduled flights. The company has taken a bold step to develop new hub Airport at the vicinity of Addis Ababa which is expected to move the countries aviation in to a higher step. According to Endris, site selection, feasibility study and master plan preparation for the construction of the major Mega Hub Airport is on progress. The planned hub will have a capacity of accommodating more than 80 million passengers per year.
In addition to Ethiopia, other East African countries including: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are undertaking airport expansion projects. At the Africa Airport Expansion Summit, civil aviation and airport authorities from Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi made presentations about their ongoing and planned expansion projects.