Four international airports in Zambia are set for fundamental transformation with the release of nearly one billion dollars.
It is confirmed: Financial injections have been made by Government to the tune of US$360 million for Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, $522 million for Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, $50 million for Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport while the cost of revamping Mfuwe International Airport is as yet under consideration.
"When the airports' transformation is completed," in the words of Robinson Misitala, the National Airports Corporation Limited (NACL) managing director, "Kenneth Kaunda International Airport specifically, will bear comparison with the best airports in Africa, both in infrastructure as well as in services delivery."
When NACL was instituted in September 1989, about 24 years back now, the Zambian economic thinkers had taken into consideration the vital function of aviation services in achieving a sustainable Zambian economy.
NACL superseded the Department of Civil Aviation specifically in management and operations of the four international airports, now known as Kenneth Kaunda, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and Mfuwe.
It was a move taken to run the airports viably with a profit-making motivation.
In a decisive, dramatic turn of events, NACL has sourced stimulative financing with Government backing for transformation of the four international airports. The NACL is set to become virtually a wholly recreated operating company.
"The overhauling of KKIA was deemed an important part of the company's five-year strategic plan in modernizing the four airports managed by NACL and designed to position the country for the expected growth in both passenger travel and cargo business," the CEO notes.
"It goes without saying that as people fly in and out of a country, the first and last image they carry is centred on the airport outlook. Hence, we strongly feel the need to give visitors to Zambia something positive when they fly in and out of Lusaka, or when they use any of the three other international airports."
The broad majority of Zambians, however, are inclined to ask: Is Zambia, currently, in position to turn NACL into an aviation services showpiece?
One thing has come out so certain: NACL current management headed by Mr Misitala with all blessings from the Patriotic Front Government is leaving no stone unturned in introducing state-of-the-art facilities to NACL airports.
Zambia is breaking her seams economically. This is the age of cherished modernity in which the Zambian citizenry require more, and not less, of the elaborate comforts derived from aviation services.
Under the envisioned company reconstruction phases, Harry Mwanga Nkumba International Airport was treated as the first priority. It has since been upgraded all-round to meet international standards and best management practices.
Essentially, the airport in Livingstone now radiates not a merely refurbished but new state-of-the-art international passenger terminal building sitting on 7,000 square metres of land at the cost of $50,000, as Mr Misitala affirms.
As a consequence, the old terminal building which was erected in 1952 will now be converted for domestic and VIP purposes only. Of course, as planned, it will be rehabilitated thoroughly under phase three of the project.
On final completion, the new terminal will have features including elevators, a banking hall, upper-floor VIP and business lounges, upper-floor restaurant and viewing terrace.
Other absorbing features for passengers and tourists range from holding lounge, water feature, curtain walling, duty-free and retail shops.
This is not all: the terminal houses electronic spaces, flight information displays, CCTV and access control, a modern central air-conditioning system, fire alarm system, security agencies offices, smoking lounges, four entry gates and two exit gates.
The re-development of KKIA, the capital's main airport, entails and involves mammoth construction works gobbling huge investments totalling US$360 million. As forecast, the construction is scheduled to commence in June this year.
Both in national and international interests, the reconstruction of KKIA has been deemed a development long overdue as the outlook of the capital airport portrays the nation's levels of national affluence and modernity.
There has been every reason and justification, therefore, to undertake the reconstruction of KKIA - in every respect massively - replacing the current airport which was commissioned in 1967.
A gleeful-looking Mr Misitala, is more than pleased that the Government has reaffirmed its commitment by releasing K140 million as advance payment towards the reconstruction and expansion of KKIA in Lusaka.
Mr Misitala states that the redevelopment of KKIA is based on a master-plan drawn up by the aviation consultancy group, Leigh Fisher Associates. The study was funded by the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
The master-plan features, in the main, two major construction works: a new ideal passenger terminal with an annual capacity of four million passengers (twice the present capacity) and a commercial complex with conference facilities, a shopping mall and two hotels--a 30-room hotel for transit passengers and an 80-room hotel open to the general public.
Overally and desirably, the new KKIA is a massive developmental undertaking with noteworthy structures: a new two-storey terminal building with facilities ranging from 22 check-in counters, 12 border channels and six security counters.
Additional provisions include an exclusive Presidential terminal with ministerial and Government VIPs inclusively; a new air-traffic control building and tower and, above all, a new NACL office complex.
What more? An airport hotel offering 80 rooms, new car-park, new car terminal as well as a new apron and taxiways.
KKIA runway, four-kilometre long, is adequate enough for the landing of the trendy Airbus 340-300 which carries 365 passengers, or even the Airbus 380 which flies 500 passengers.
In the light of the decision taken by the Government to reinstitute the liquidated national airline (Zambia Airways), it is vital that the operations of NACL be revamped. This was the positive, chief reason, among others which induced Government and other stakeholders to fathom far-reaching measures entailing heavy capitalisation of the parastatal company - at a total cost of $947 million.
A financially and technologically well-equipped NACL is bound to become a money-spinning company. Potentially, it will be, especially in Zambia's notably promising business environment.
NACL derives financial earnings through a myriad services rendered to airlines. These include aircraft landing fees, parking fees, taking-off fees, air-navigational fees, aviation security charges and passenger service charges.
Other revenues will, in future, be generated from running hotels, restaurants and provisions of facilities for business set-ups such as banks, car hire services and car parks, advertising and assorted forms of retailing rentable shops.
All in all, NACL is undergoing a thorough overhauling which, upon completion, will offer high quality airport services to satisfy the expectations of stakeholders through the tabulated infrastructure currently being undertaken.
As for the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola, the projection is that the current airport structure would be relocated to a congenial site, centrally from Ndola, Kitwe, Luanshya and Mufulira towns of the Copperbelt.
The new construction will be undertaken at a cost of $522. It will be an airport master-piece to add to the changing face of Ndola City, the home of the ultra-modern Levy Mwanawasa International Airport.
Mfuwe International Airport, in Eastern Province, is no exception. Pragmatic rehabilitation is, dead-certain, in the pipeline.
Sally Namutowe, NACL Communications and Branding Manager, defines the new direction of NACL:
"We have no less than 12 airlines landing and taking off at our four international airports. No airline can function as a business without airports."
"In economic terms", she asserts, "NACL contributes in a good measure to national economy as a key player in tourism promotion."
Who, to ask one question, is not aware that aviation has proved to be a significant business and foreign exchange earner of many countries of the world?
That is what NACL exists to attain for the Zambian common good.- Feature courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.