Ethiopia to break ground for new mega airport project
By Kaleyesus Bekele
Source: The Reporter
The Ethiopian Airports Enterprise is going to break ground for the mega international airport construction it is planning to undertake in the vicinity of Addis Ababa.
At the Airport and Infrastructures and MRO (maintenance repair and overhaul) conference held at the UNECA conference center on September 22-24, the Ethiopian Minister of Transport, Workneh Gebeyehu, said that Ethiopia is to break ground for a new mega hub airport in the vicinity of Addis Ababa. “The new mega hub will move the aviation industry in Ethiopia to a higher level.” When completed the new mega airport will have the capacity to handle 120 million passengers a year.
“It will make Addis Ababa the aviation hub of Africa. The new airport will be the second mega project in the country (next to the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam)”, Workneh said.
The Ethiopian Airport Enterprise has hired a French consultancy firm, ADPI, that undertakes the study on new mega hub airport construction. The enterprise plans to build an airport city. ADPI has been working on the site location for the past one year.
CEO of the Ethiopian Airport Enterprise, Tewodros Dawit, told The Reporter that previously ADPI had selected eight locations as possible construction site. After conducting a thorough detailed technical study and analysis, ADPI proposed three locations– Abusera locality near Akaki town, Alem Tena, near Modjo town and Tefki, a small town on Jimma road.
Tewodros told The Reporter that ADPI recently submitted the report to the Ethiopian Airport Enterprise. After evaluating the report, the enterprise presented the report to the Ministry of Transport. According to Tewodros, the ministry will organize a consultative meeting with all stakeholders and arrive at a decision. “After holding adequate deliberations and evaluating the proposed locations the government will make a final decision.”
The new mega international airport will have the capacity to handle more than 100 million passengers a year. The airport will have four runways and a number of passenger terminals. It will be built phase by phase. Though the total cost of the construction is yet to be determined after detailed engineering cost analysis, the cost of the project is estimated at around four billion dollars.
“It is not only a runway and terminal that we are going to build. It is going to be an airport city. An airport and many other required facilities,” Tewodros said. The airport city project may include, among others, hotels, shopping malls, office buildings and apartments. “The airport city will make Ethiopia an aviation hub in the whole region,” Tewodros said. Experts say the new airport will be on par with Dubai and Heathrow international airports.
According to the CEO, a final decision on the site location will be made within a month. He said the cornerstone will be laid next year. “The plan is to start construction within two years. The whole project may take ten years.”
According to Tewodros, the airport master plan study is being conducted. “The next step would be gathering inputs, searching for partners and undertaking other necessary pre-construction work.”
The new mega international hub is expected to serve the nation for the coming 100 years. “So we need to plan and execute the project painstakingly.”
Spurred by the fast economic growth the country is registering, the demand for air travel in Ethiopia is growing. The national flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, which is growing fast, is expanding its route network in Ethiopia as well as around the globe. More international airlines are coming to Addis Ababa. This has necessitated expansion of the existing airports in Addis Ababa as well as in the regional towns.
When built in the late 1990s, the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal was designed to handle six million passengers a year for 20 years. But only after eight years of operation the passenger traffic surpassed the designed capacity. Currently the main hub, Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, is accommodating more than eight million passengers.
The Ethiopian Airports Enterprise has embarked on a major expansion project on the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal at a cost of 350 million dollars. When the expansion work is completed the airport will have the capacity to handle 22 million passengers. A Chinese construction firm, CCCC, is the contractor while the French consultancy firm, ADPI, is the consultant.
The Addis Ababa Bole International Airport was built in the late 1950s. Prior to that the airport was located opposite the Armed Forces Hospital on Jimma road. The airport in Lideta was built in 1940. The airport was moved to Bole when Ethiopia joined the jet age in 1962. The national flag carrier ,Ethiopian Airlines, acquired the first jet aircraft-Boeing B720-in 1962. The second terminal at Bole International Airport was inaugurated in 2003.
EAE is also investing on airport infrastructure in the regional towns. Currently, the enterprise is building airports in Jinka and Hawassa towns. It is also to build Robe, Semera and Shire airports. New airports will be built in Nekemet and Dembidolo towns.
Today, EAE administers 23 airports, four of them are international. Seventeen of the airports are asphalted. Ten years ago only ten of them were asphalted. The passenger traffic is now 8 million per year while ten years ago it was only 3 million. “The aviation industry in Ethiopia is growing especially in the past ten years. Air transport drives economic growth by creating job opportunity and stimulating trade and investment,” Workneh told participants of the aviation conference.
More than 100 delegates participated at the airport infrastructures and MRO conference organized by BCI Aerospace, based in Toulouse France.