in Features / Airports

Lusaka airport takes shape as passenger numbers soar

Posted 30 August 2018 · Add Comment

The Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL) has made progress in upgrading infrastructure at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport as the country prepares to revive the national airline. Humphrey Nkonde reports.

Construction work at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka is currently reported to be about 70% complete.
It is being carried out by the China Jiangxi Corporation for International and Technical Cooperation, which signed a contract with ZACL on September 5, 2013.
ZACL is mandated to construct international airports and improve existing ones throughout Zambia. The $360 million for the current work has jointly been financed by the Zambian Government and China’s Export and Import (EXIM) Bank.
Key improvements include construction of a four million-capacity international passenger terminal building with six aero bridges and a fire and rescue station.
Other work includes an in-transit hotel, an air traffic control tower, a standalone presidential pavilion, a cargo terminal and a commercial complex.
The commercial complex will have a shopping mall and airport office park.
Non-aeronautical infrastructure, including the hotel and shopping mall, have been included in the work to diversify ZACL’s income generation away from aeronautical services.
At the moment, both local and international passengers use the common terminal building, which also houses the ZACL offices and the VIP lounge used by the president and other important people.
Once the international terminal building is complete, the common terminal would be used exclusively by domestic passengers.
ZACL communications and brand manager, Mweembe Sikaulu, said overall work was about 70% complete.
In a breakdown, she explained the new terminal building was 77% complete, the hotel was 67% finished and the air traffic control tower was 86% finalised.
She added that the presidential pavilion was 78% complete, the cargo terminal 85% done and the commercial complex was at 45%.
The only part of the airport improvement that is 100% finished is the fire and rescue station.
The work, which began on April 21, 2015, is expected to be completed in October next year.
Improvements at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, named after Zambia’s first president, are being made as the southern African country plans to revive its national airline, which was liquidated in 1994.
Early this year, the government signed a shareholder agreement with Ethiopian Airlines to revive the national airline.
Ethiopian Airlines would have a 55% stake, while 45% would be retained by the government.
Meanwhile, Zambian airports recorded a positive growth in the first quarter of 2017, with 456,821 general passenger movements, according to ZACL.
“Passenger numbers increased by a staggering 10.9% when compared to the same quarter in 2016,” Sikaulu said.
She added that 82,524 domestic passengers passed through the designated airports, signifying a substantial growth spurt of 23.1% from 67,028 in 2016.
“Equally, international passenger movements grew by 8.6%, from 344,783 passengers in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 374,297 passengers in fourth quarter of 2017,” she said.
One notable factor that contributed to the increase was the commencement of domestic flights by the newly established Mahogany Air.
Another factor was that Proflight Zambia increased frequencies between the capital, Lusaka, and Ndola on the Copperbelt, from three to four flights on selected days.
There was also a remarkable use of Zambia for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.
“A stable currency boosted confidence in the merchandise trading market with China and Dubai,” Sikaulu said, pointing to another factor that contributed to passenger growth in 2017.
However, ZACL will need to work hard to attract more international airlines, given that the new international passenger will have a four million passenger capacity.
 

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