Home » Aviation: West African Country, Sierra Leone Opens $270M New Terminal At Free Town International Airport

Aviation: West African Country, Sierra Leone Opens $270M New Terminal At Free Town International Airport

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Free Town International Airport

West Africa Country, Sierra Leone has official opened its new terminal at the Freetown International Airport worth $270 million at a ceremony attended by Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio.

According to simpleflying.com, the terminal has the capacity for over one million passengers annually, five times the airport’s current capacity.

Sierra Leone unveils new international terminal
The 14,000 m² terminal building is three times the size of Freetown International Airport’s existing terminal facility – along with arrivals and departures areas for commercial passengers, the development contains a VIP/Presidential channel, improved cargo facilities and a brand-new air traffic control tower built in the shape of a diamond. The terminal is a milestone for the country of Sierra Leone as the first international terminal to be built since it gained independence in 1961, President Bio said.

“Today is a great day, a new day for all of us. This is the first time in the history of this country that a completely new international airport terminal has been constructed, one that has the latest technology and the highest compliance standards to make it more attractive to more international airlines. Today we have an ultramodern air terminal that is three times larger than the existing terminal and has brand-new facilities that will accommodate up to a million passengers a year to make it a major transit hub in the sub-region. We now have on offer a safer, modern and very comfortable airport.”

READ: Tourism: West African Nation, Sierra Leone gets first cocoa factory with 4,000 tonnes capacity

The airport’s existing facility, situated on the southern side of the runway, was built back in the 1940s by the Royal Air Force and has undergone sporadic expansion and renovation over the decades. The new terminal was built by Turkish construction company Summa to the tune of $270 million under a ‘build, operate and transfer’ contract, which will see it operate the airport for 25 years before handing it off to the Sierra Leone government.

Operations will begin at the new facility immediately, although authorities have stated it will take a number of months for airlines to transition operations from the old terminal. As for the old terminal, it is likely to be taken over by the Sierra Leone Armed Forces and become the country’s main air base.

New West African hub
The terminal could herald the return of Sierra Leone as a key West African hub and drive tourism to the country, which once enjoyed a reputation as a popular beach getaway in the 1970s and 1980s. Other features at the airport include a sustainable 1.5 megawatt (MW) solar farm powering all of its needs, making it the first fully green terminal facility in West Africa.

Kabineh Kallon, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Transport and Aviation, said,
“An airport, as the first point of entry into a country, is the face of that country. This is our airport – the pride of Sierra Leone.”

Kallon added that “at least three more” international airlines have expressed interest in establishing operations at the airport’s new terminal. Freetown International Airport has undergone rapid growth in the past two decades, with passenger numbers soaring from 65,000 in 2000 up to 246,000 in 2019, but its dated terminal has struggled to keep up with modern standards.

What’s next?
A key component of Freetown’s strategy is to attract more international carriers – the airport is presently served by just a few international airlines, including Air France and Turkish Airlines – and has failed to re-attract the likes of British Airways
A five-star hotel next to the airport is currently in the works, as current hotel facilities nearby the airport do not meet international standards required by carriers like British Airways. With the new hotel, aircrew from international airlines will be able to stay in Sierra Leone overnight.

 

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