With the increase in passenger volume at its hub, Bole, Ethiopian Airline is set to inaugurate a dedicated terminal for African heads of states, senior government officials, and members of the diplomatic corps.
The new terminal which is being constructed by Chinese construction giant, China Communication and Construction Company (CCCC), will be open for traffic in April or May this year.
According to thereporterethiopia.com, the Chinese firm is undertaking the construction of the VIP terminal on the left wing of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport Passenger terminal II near the old cargo terminal (Customs bonded warehouse). The construction commenced in September 2017.
Eskinder Alemu, CEO of Ethiopian Airports, said work is being expedited on the projects to meet the deadline.
Addis Ababa is often refers to as the political capital of Africa as it is the seat of the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission and other major international and regional organizations. Since the city hosts major international conferences, the Ethiopian government believed that the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport needs to have a dedicated terminal to VIPs.
The VIP terminal will have two levels-on the ground floor where VIPs enter the terminal and will use elevators to go up to the second floor to board their planes. There will be three different access ways for diplomats, senior government officials and heads of states. The terminal, among other things, will have various saloons, press briefing room, conference room, restaurants, and cocktail ball room. It will have its own parking lot and access road.
The VIP terminal together with the expansion of the domestic terminal will cost 120 million dollars. The finance has been secured from the EXIM Bank of China. “It will have a full-fledged VIP saloon. The construction is progressing very well. We hope to inaugurate it in April or May this year,” Eskinder said.
Ethiopian Airports has completed a major expansion work on the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal at cost of 360 million dollars. CCCC commenced work on the project in December 2015 and it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in January 2019.
According to Eskinder, work on the domestic terminal (Terminal I) is expedited.
“Terminal I will totally be transformed into a new terminal and merged with terminal II. And it will be used to handle domestic flights. But it will have a different look,” Eskinder said.
After merging with the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Group in August 2017 Ethiopian Airports is making strides in developing airport infrastructure all over the country. The major accomplishment is the completion of the Addis Ababa Airport passenger terminal II expansion project. Airport up grade and expansion projects are being undertaken at different regional states.
Currently, Ethiopian Airports is under preparation to commence the construction of five new airports in Mizan Aman, Gore Metu, Debre Markos, Negele Borena and Yabelo towns.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, Tewolde Gebremriam told The Reporter that the aviation group is striving to offer global standard airport service. “Our hub Addis Ababa Airport is competing with Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Johannesburg, and other hubs in the region. Competition is not only in the air but it is also on the ground. We have to bring our airport facility and services up to the global standard,” Tewolde said.
The Addis Ababa Bole International Airport was built in the 1960s when Ethiopian Airlines joined the jet age by introducing jet aircraft (Boeing B720) in Africa.
Also, is planning on constructing a new airport at the cost of $5 billon which will be built in Bishoftu, a town southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa, and cover 35 square kilometers, said Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam in an interview with the state-run Ethiopian News Agency.
“Because Bole Airport is not going to accommodate us; we have beautiful expansion project, the airport looks very beautiful and very large but with the growth that we are going every year in about 3 or 4 years we are going to be full,” Gebremariam said.
In 2018, Addis Ababa overtook Dubai as the top transit hub for long-haul passengers into Africa. In 2019 China funded the expansion of Bole Airport was, allowing it to accommodate 22 million passengers annually.