Sudan Signs Contract for New Khartoum Airport With Chinese Financing

The Sudanese government today signed a $700 million contract to construct a new international airport in Sudan's capital city of Khartoum.

The new airport will be built at an area of 103 million square meters, officials said.

The project, which will be funded through a preferential loan from China, will accommodate 80 commercial planes every hour and 6.8 million passengers per year.

The Chinese loan will be repaid within 15 years including 5 years grace period and less than 5% down payment.

Diplomats told Reuters that China waited with the loan until Sudan agreed to allow South Sudan's oil exports to transit through its Port Sudan port.

The Sudanese finance minister Ali Mahmoud Abd al-Rasool, who addressed the signing ceremony, said that the airport given its geographical location, would positively impact Sudan's economy as well as Africa's economy, predicting that it would revive Sudan's foreign trade.

He said that the Chinese offer was by far more competitive than the previous bids, pointing that the funding for the project is provided by the Export-Import Bank of China (EIBC) and the executing company is China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

Mahmoud further hailed the Sudanese-Chinese friendship, saying that this project represents a luminous milestone in the history of relations between the two nations.

The Chinese ambassador to Khartoum, Luo Xiaoguang, for his part said that China recognizes the vital role of the new airport to Sudan's economic and social development, describing Sudan's harsh economic conditions as temporary.

He stressed that China will continue to support Sudan under all circumstances, promising to help Chinese companies involved in strategic projects in Sudan implement their work in speedy and properly manner.

The director of Sudan's airports holding company, Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, said that the work in the new airport will begin before the end of this year, adding that the agreement provided that 20% of the contracting companies and labor must be Sudanese.

The director of the technical department at Sudan's airports holding company, Ismail Hassabo, disclosed that the new airport would accommodate 80 airplanes per hour including the largest and latest aircraft such as Boeing S77 and Airbus 680.

The airport will be located 40 kilometers south of Khartoum downtown. It also includes an international hotel with 300 double rooms, an advanced conference center, businessmen center and a mall of 8,000 square meters.

The deal with Sudan comes at a time when airlines consider cutting back flights because of currency restrictions banning them repatriating profits. The central bank forces them to sell tickets to Sudanese in local currency, which has halved in value against the US dollar.

Last March, Dutch carrier KLM, part of KLM-Air France, stopped flying to Sudan, a country under U.S. sanctions.

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