Ethiopia set to build Africa’s largest airport outside Addis Ababa



(Posted 29th September 2015)

Information is emerging from Addis Ababa that at the sidelines of the Airport Infrastructure and MRO conference last week Ethiopia’s Minister for Transport Gebeyehu announced that ground will be broken soon for a new mega airport close to the capital.

The new airport will, when complete, be able to handle up to 120 million passengers a year and become the new home for fast growing Ethiopian Airlines, presently the largest and most profitable African airline with a network spanning across all continents.

Gebeyehu was quoted to have said that the airport project would be similar to the great Renaissance Dam in terms of investment value and allow Ethiopia to position herself as Africa’s number one aviation hub. After working for some time on identifying a suitable site has EAE, which earlier on had appointed French consulting firm ADPI to assist in site sourcing, now given three possible locations for the new airport and that government will now embark in a consultative exercise with local communities before making a final decision.

To be built in several phases will the new airport eventually have four runways, several passenger terminals and notably an airport city be built which will, when ready, provide facilities equal to similar projects elsewhere in the world.

Ground breaking is anticipated in about two years from now and the construction of the new airport could take as much as ten years to be fully completed and probably not a moment too soon considering the increasing capacity constraints at Bole International Airport. Build initially for a capacity of six million passengers has traffic exceeded this last year already with more than eight million passengers arriving, departing and transiting. Work is underway however to raise the capacity to over 20 million passengers to serve as a stop gap until the new mega airport will be ready.

Airport operator Ethiopian Airport Enterprises oversees nearly two dozen airports and aerodromes across the country including four international airports and is expected to invest at least four billion US Dollars in the new facility, at present day cost.

Airport developments in Africa have been largely lagging behind traffic increases with Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport a prime example and while Kenya is now aggressively expanding their main airport have similar plans been slow in coming elsewhere. A new international terminal will be ready next year in Dar es Salaam and Rwanda, just having expanded their present international airport in Kigali – a taxiway is being constructed right now to allow for a higher rate of landings and take offs as traffic increases – is also in the final stages of planning for a brand new international airport outside the capital at Bugesera.

Notably did South Africa make major investments in new and modernized / expanded aviation infrastructure ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a move now benefitting the country through increased visitor numbers who come to the country for tourism and trade.

Ethiopia set to build Africa’s largest airport outside Addis Ababa