The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: Airport Enterprise to Invest U.S. $250 Million in Bole Airport Expansion

The Ethiopian Airports Enterprise is going to undertake a major expansion project at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passengers' terminal at a cost of 250 million dollars.

The newly-appointed CEO of the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise, Tewodros Dawit, told The Reporter that in line with the Ethiopian Airlines Vision 2025 development strategy the enterprise is undertaking various airport development projects. The Addis Ababa Bole International Airport Passengers' expansion project is one of them.

According to Tewodros, the expansion project includes the construction of a new passenger terminal as an extensions of the existing Terminal 1 (domestic and regional terminal) and terminal 2 (international terminal) with all related equipment and the construction of a new VIP passengers' terminal.

The new terminal will house boarding areas, lounges, recreation centers, shopping malls, offices and other facilities. New boarding gates, boarding bridges, and a new parking area are parts of the expansion project. The new parking area will serve passengers and staff members. The other major component of the expansion project is the VIP terminal. The first of its type in Ethiopia, the VIP terminal, will be used by leaders, senior government officials, diplomats and other dignitaries. The VIP terminal will have various saloons, lounges, conference rooms, recreation centers, duty-free shops, an IT center and exclusive parking lot.

According to Tewodros, a 250-million-dollar loan has been secured from the government of China. An agreement was signed by the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Chinese government. The Chinese construction firm, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), will be the contractor for the expansion project. CCCC is a renowned construction company which is building the Adama-Addis Ababa expressway. CCCC is the parent company of the CRBC, another Chinese construction firm that built the Addis Ababa ring road project and a number of other roads in Addis Ababa.

CCCC brokered the loan deal with the Chinese Export-Import (EXIM) Bank. The loan negotiation took a year-and-a-half. An agreement will be signed by the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise and the Chinese EXIM Bank.

The design work of the expansion project is being undertaken by a Singapore company, CPG. According to Tewodros the final design of the expansion work will be completed after two months. Work on the project is expected to commence next March. The expansion work is expected to be finalized within three years.

The Addis Ababa Bole International Airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 is used to accommodate domestic and regional passengers while Terminal 2 is used for long-haul flights. Terminal 2, commonly known as the "new terminal", was inaugurated ten years ago. It was anticipated to accommodate 5 million passengers a year but today it is handling 6 million passengers. Terminal 1, commonly called the "old terminal", accommodates 500,000 passengers a year.

Ten years ago only 900,000 passengers used the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport every year. In the past ten years the passenger traffic has been growing by 25 percent each year and reached 6.5 million, surpassing the maximum limit of the airport capacity, 5 million. The Ethiopian Airports Enterprise renovated the domestic terminal (later named Terminal 1) and started to accommodate passengers enroute to regional destinations there. This helped to mitigate the congestion at the international terminal (Terminal 2).

When the planned expansion work is finalized, the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport will handle up to 25 million passengers a year. "We expect the passenger traffic to reach 22 million by 2025," Tewodros said.

"Addis Ababa is a gateway to Africa. We are close to Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. So we want to link Africa to these regions," Tewodros said. "Ethiopian Airlines is the leading airline in Africa and it is playing a big role in connecting Africa with the rest of the world and we want to have airports that can accommodate the growing demand.

Tewodros said the enterprise will soon put up a tender to hire a consultant that would supervise the construction work. The consultant will also undertake a study on the new airport planned to be built out of Addis Ababa.

Three locations have been identified for the construction of the new international airport (mega-hub). These locations are found near Mojo, Teji, and Dukem towns. The Ethiopian airport Enterprise is undertaking a study on the site location. An aviation expert told The Reporter that the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise wants to build the airport in a lowland area where jetliners use less fuel during takeoff. "Less fuel means the aircraft can take more load," the expert said. "Modjo is ideal for the planned new mega-hub because of the low altitude. However, the remoteness of the site from the capital and the absence of convenient public transport is an issue to be addressed," the expert added.

Dukem and Teji are close to Addis Ababa but their altitude is similar to that of Addis Ababa. In addition Teji does not have the required infrastructure. The enterprise has asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for technical assistance on the site selection. The consultant that the enterprise will hire for the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport expansion project will also undertake the study on the mega hub project. The consultant would undertake feasibility, technical, and financial studies as well as produce an airport master plan. The consultant will be tasked to study the integration of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport with the mega hub.

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