in Features / Airports

Why growing is a pain at Khartoum

Posted 31 March 2021 · Add Comment

Khartoum needs a new airport. But, with that project at a standstill, a study has recommended far-reaching improvements to the existing facility in the Sudanese capital.

On the limit: The present Khartoum International Airport is close to the city centre and largely surrounded by residential districts. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.

When it opened in 1947, like many airports of its generation, Khartoum International was built close to the city it served. Now, however, just 4km from the centre and with residential districts at both ends of its single runway, its ability to expand is severely limited. Alan Dron reports.

Additionally, a February 2020 report from Khartoum University’s engineering faculty, found that the current airport, while playing a vital role in the country’s economy, was suffering from “serious congestion, delay and cancellation problems” that were becoming a daily occurrence.

To ease these problems, for some years Sudan has been planning a new international airport at Omdurman, 40km south of the capital.

The new $1.15 billion airport’s first phase aims to be capable of handling six million passengers annually. It will have two 4,000metre runways (as opposed to the current airport’s single 2,980metre strip).

The new airport started construction early in 2019, with work scheduled to be complete within 36 months. However, an official of the Turkish construction firm, Summa, handling the work, told African Aerospace that the project had been suspended more than a year ago.

There is no indication as to when it may resume.

The Khartoum University study noted: “Unfortunately, construction of the new airport in the short term is extremely limited by the country’s weak financial situation and lack of financing by international funds.”

Instead, it considered ways of improving the existing airport to meet demand, which has been increasing by around 5% annually for much of the past decade.

It identified areas for improvement, including expansion of the existing terminal building, extending the apron to allow more aircraft parking space, and increasing both the length of the runway and the width of taxiways to allow increased operational flexibility and reduce delays experienced by airlines.

Raising funds for such improvements may depend on Sudan being removed from the US list of countries sanctioned for allegedly supporting terrorist organisations.


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