World Bulletin / News Desk
Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE) is expanding Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport while planning construction of another major air-transport hub near the capital.
The announcement was made at a press conference organized by the EAE to showcase the agency's achievements in modernizing and streamlining national airport services.
According to EAE officials, growing passenger traffic necessitated construction of a new airport.
"The traffic forecast for the coming decade stands at between 20 and 22 million passengers a year," EAE Project Deputy Head Commander Kaleab Tsegaye told reporters.
Currently, he said, the number of passengers has risen to seven million a year – a significant increase from only 900,000 just a decade ago.
According to Tsegaye, the new aerodrome – expected to cost some 50 billion birr (roughly $2.5 billion) – has already been designed.
"The designer is a French company that has already submitted its recommendation for the future airport site to the government," he said, declining to elaborate further.
EAE officials, however, had earlier told the Anadolu Agency that three sites had been shortlisted: Modjo and Dukem (located 70km and 40km east of Addis Ababa respectively) and Tefki (located some 40km west of the capital).
Construction of the new airport, which could take up to ten years, will be carried out in phases, according to officials.
Meanwhile, a $225 million expansion plan is well underway at Bole International Airport, which was first built more than 60 years ago, with a loan from China.
On the airport's vast premises, both obsolete and modern runways and aircraft stand side by side. The terminal, built one decade ago, dwarfs the first terminal, which now caters only to local flights.
In one corner of the airport stand abandoned aircraft, including old DC-3s and DC-10s. These contrast sharply with the new Dreamliners and Boeing 777s, of which Ethiopian Airlines now has plenty.
On both sides of the passengers' terminal, work is underway on the extension, which will cover a total area of 80,000 square meters.
Designed by a prominent Singaporean firm, the expanded terminal will have 150 percent more capacity, according to EAE public relations head Wondimu Tekle.
Additional smaller contracts – to raise luggage conveyance capacity and beef up security – have been granted to various overseas contractors, said Tekle.