Africa’s most profitable airline company has announced that they will commence construction of Africa’s largest airport in six months time. Ethiopian Airline’s chief executive officer Tewolde Gebremariam told the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation that the airport may be bigger than France’s Charles de Gaulle. The new facility would reduce congestion at Bole Airport, Addis Ababa’s present international airport.
He said, the new airport would be constructed on a 35 sq km of land between the town of Bishoftu and Zequala mountain. Bishoftu is about 48km southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa and authorities in the Oromo region of Ethiopia were already cooperating to secure the land.
When the idea of building at Bishoftu was discussed in the past, an airport with a capacity of 80 million was mentioned.
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest airline by fleet size and revenue is 100 per cent owned by the Ethiopian Government and has been murmured to be part of the companies that the government plans to open up in the privatization of Ethiopian corporations.
Less than a decade ago, Bole handled fewer than a million passengers a year, but that rose to 7 million in 2014. Passenger numbers are expected to continue increasing by about 18% a year.
A $225m terminal, funded by China and built by China Communications Construction Company, was completed at Bole in January last year, with 28 check-in counters and seven gates. The Chinese company is presently working on a $138m project to expand and renovate Terminal 1.
Other plans for international airports have been announced in the past. In 2012, former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn reportedly gave the green light for a project near the town of Mojo, 65km south of Bole.
Bishoftu, a settlement of about 100,000 people, was the site where the Ethiopian Air Force trained its first pilots in 1946 and is not far from where an Ethiopian Airline Flight 302 crashed in March 2019 killing all on board.