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Ethiopia Is Spending $5 Billion to Build Africa’s Largest Airport

By Michelle Baran

Jan 31, 2020

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Ethiopian Airlines is on a growing spree.

Photo by Hitman H/Shutterstock

Ethiopian Airlines is on a growing spree.

The new airport will reportedly be able to handle more than triple the number of passengers who fly through the continent’s current busiest hub—Johannesburg, South Africa.

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The state-run Ethiopian Airlines has said it will begin building a $5 billion airport this year that will ultimately accommodate 100 million passengers per year.

The new airport will be located in the town of Bishoftu, 37 miles south of the capital Addis Ababa on 13 square miles of land, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam recently told the state’s Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).

Last year, a new $363 million passenger terminal opened at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport that will allow it to handle up to 22 million passengers, up from its previous capacity of 7 million, Quartz Africa reported.

But even with the expansion, GebreMariam said that a new airport is needed to accommodate the passenger growth Ethiopia is experiencing.

Bole Airport “looks very beautiful and [is] very large but with the growth that we are [witnessing] every year, in about three or four years we are going to be full,” GebreMariam told ENA.

Addis Ababa has already ousted Dubai as the largest hub between Africa and the rest of the world.

Once the new airport is completed (a projected date has not yet been announced), the new international airport will be able to handle a capacity of 100 million passengers annually—the busiest airport in Africa is currently Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport, which welcomed more than 21 million passengers in 2018.

Ethiopian Airlines, which has a fleet of more than 100 planes and serves more than 119 destinations, is on a growing spree. The carrier reported $4 billion in revenue in 2019, when it transported 12 million passengers and 432,000 tons of cargo.

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In 2018, Addis Ababa ousted Dubai International Airport as the largest air transport hub between Africa and the rest of the world, Quartz reported. Following a recent expansion, Dubai has a passenger capacity of 90 million, 10 million shy of the capacity planned for the new Ethiopian hub.

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