in Features / Airports

Africa's growing places

Posted 7 November 2018 · Add Comment

Kaleyesus Bekele reports from the sixth Africa Airport Expansion Summit held in Addis Ababa.

Experts predict that eight of the ten fastest-growing aviation markets will be in Africa by 2034.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) projects a 5.1% growth in passenger numbers across the region by 2035.
Nearly 300 million passengers will travel to and from African destinations and, as a result, airport development projects today are mushrooming across the continent.
The majority of airports in Africa are undergoing expansion in a bid to cater for rapidly growing passenger and cargo traffic volumes.
Such was the backdrop for the sixth Africa Airport Expansion Summit held on February 21, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where government officials, investors, civil aviation authorities, airport management groups and airport equipment manufacturers deliberated on airport development projects.
Tanzania is one of the countries that is undertaking a number of airport expansions. The country has three international airports – Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), Zanzibar International Airport (ZIA) and Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) – plus 11 domestic airports and more than 40 airstrips.
Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority director general, Hamza Saidi Johari, said the demand for air travel in the country has been growing and the government had placed airports development at the forefront of the development agenda.
“The government is continuously investing in airports development and expansion and to strengthen the national carrier for the purpose of improving the quality of air transport and turning JNIA into a hub,” Johari said.
The €254.8 million ($297.2 million) construction of a new terminal building (Terminal III) and associated infrastructure at JNIA is under way. The 60,000sqm facility, which will have the capacity to handle six million passengers per annum, is 70% complete and is scheduled to be finished later this year.
The Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority has embarked on a second terminal building upgrade project. According to Johari, a feasibility study and preliminary engineering design for the rehabilitation and extension of passenger terminal building II and its associated facilities at JNIA has been completed. “The government is negotiating a loan with development partners and financial institutions,” he reported.
A major airport upgrade project is also nearing completion at KIA. It includes the rehabilitation of existing taxiways and apron, extension of the apron, construction of a new taxiway, and the refurbishment of the terminal building.
In Zanzibar, rehabilitation of the current terminal building and construction of new terminal II building is taking place.
Johari also disclosed that there a number of on-going and planned upgrade projects at the domestic airports.
Kenya is also undertaking major airport expansion projects to meet the growing demand for air travel.
The Kenyan Airports Authority (KAA) manages four international airports – Nairobi (JKIA), Moi in Mombasa (MBA), Eldoret (EIA) and Kisumu (KIS) – plus five domestic airports and seven airstrips.
The flagship airport, JKIA, has 40 shuttle airline operators and is the home base of the national flag-carrier Kenya Airways. It has a capacity of 7.5 million passengers per annum, plus a million tons for cargo and 120,000 aircraft movements.
The airport is currently handling 6.5 million passengers, 0.3 million tons of cargo and 100,000 aircraft movements respectively per year.
Joseph Okumu, airport manager, Kisumu International Airport, speaking on behalf of the KAA, said several expansion projects were being undertaken with the view to positioning JKIA as a hub airport.
To cater the steady growth of air traffic at JKIA, the authority is building a second $160 million runway, which will be 4.8km long, and 60 metres wide to accommodate giant jetliners, including the Airbus A380.
Ancillary infrastructure includes taxiways, fire-fighting facilities, weather equipment and emergency access roads. “We have congestion on a single runway and this is really a key project,” Okumu said.
Remodelling of terminals 1B, C, & D from the original terminal building at JKIA is also taking place. The project aims to install a new passenger processor (departures and arrivals), passport control, lounges, retail facilities and support infrastructure, for a green terminal building.
The capacity of Terminal 1 is expected to increase to 10.3 million from 7.5 million passengers per year once complete.
The detailed design was being completed as African Aerospace went to press and the contract was scheduled to be tendered out in 2019.
Okumu believes that the projects will boost tourism and business travel. “It will be useful for the new direct flight that Kenya Airways is planning to the US,” he said.
The Moi airport runway is being repaired at a cost of $66 million. Other major expansion projects are being carried out in Kisumu, Malindi and Eldoret airports.
Burundi, is also undertaking expansion work at Bujumbura International Airport, the country’s only entry and exit point for all international flights.
According to Pacifique Musongera, director airports and air navigation services, Burundi Civil Aviation Authority, the expansion and modernisation project has three main parts – the rehabilitation of the movement area that is the runway, taxiway and the apron, the building of new control tower facilities and equipment, and the building of a new passenger terminal plus related facilities.
The Burundi Civil Aviation Authority forecasts that passenger traffic at Bujumbura will surge to one million by 2025. “This will require a bigger terminal. It is not only a matter of building a house but we will buy and install all the security and facilitation equipment,” Musongera said.
According to him, the project will be funded by the EXIM Bank of China.
“It will take three years of detailed technical studies that will start at the end of this year. We cannot determine the project cost before the technical and detailed studies have been conducted.”
At the end of the project, Musongera hopes to see a modern airport that provides reliable, safe and secured services.
Ethiopian Airports has also unveiled its development projects.
Endris Argaw, marketing and business development manager, said his company was undertaking the construction of seven regional airports.
In addition to the regional facilities, Ethiopian Airports has started the construction of airfields for seven new additional airports. “The Ethiopian Government is committed to develop air transport services in the country. As a result, 10 regional airports have been built in the past 10 years,” Argaw said.
With the fast growth of air transport in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is congested. Tekle G Yohannes, managing director Ethiopian Airlines ground services, said the existing passenger terminal, which was meant to handle six million passengers per year, is currently accommodating close to ten million.
“Very poor airport infrastructure, inadequate airport facilities, an overcrowded terminal and unsatisfactory passenger transfer experiences are the major competitive disadvantages as compared to hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Istanbul,” Yohannes said.
To curb the problem, Ethiopian Airports is expanding the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal at a cost of $363 million.
Argaw said the project includes the expansion of the existing passenger terminal buildings, terminals one and two, and the construction of new VIP pavilion with associated equipment systems, to handle about 22 million passengers annually. The project will see the existing terminal floor area increase from 48,446sqm to 122,721sqm. It is expected to be completed in 2019.
Argaw said the project is 55% complete and he expected the new terminal building to be partially open for service as African Aerospace was going to press. He believes that the project will mitigate the terminal congestion and transform the airport infrastructure and various services provided at the airport.
“The project is in full swing,” Yohannes added. “When completed, we will potentially own one of the best airport hubs in Africa and improve our customer satisfaction.”
Ethiopian Airports currently administers 23 airports – four of them international and 19 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 country’s aviation to a higher level.
According to Argaw, site selection, a feasibility study and masterplan preparation for the construction of the major mega-hub airport is in progress. The planned hub will have the capacity to accommodate more than 80 million passengers per year.
Flora Kumama Wakolo, chief air traffic control officer, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, highlighted the need for regional cooperation in airport development and operation. “Countries must work together to provide safe and reliable air navigation services,” she said.
Experts urged African airports to embrace modern technology. Alexander Herring, general manager Africa, ADB Safegate, which has years of experience in Africa, said that he was witnessing a rapid growth in the African aviation industry. “African airports have to adopt new airport and air navigation technologies to ensure efficient and safe airport services,” he said.
However, most airports in Africa have limited financial resources to embrace modern technologies. Herring noted that countries needed to complete a detailed feasibility study to solicit funds from international financial institutions.
“To prepare a sound business plan and present it to the financing institutions is one option. The second option is to establish a public private partnership in airport development projects. The involvement of private sector is important. That is the model for the future,” he concluded.


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