A cold storage area, at the Mekelle Alula Aba Nega International Airport will begin operating this June,
Wondim Teklu, public relations head at the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE), said. The storage can handle 150 tons of goods of perishable export items like flowers, fruits, vegetables and meat as well as fish caught from the Tekeze River and grapes from nearby wine farms.
The construction as well as machineries installation, which took two years, was conducted by a local subsidiary of the Dutch firm Geerlofs while an access road connecting the cold storage area to the airport is being completed by EAE staff. A support office for the cold storage area is being built by local contractor; Gibril Geresu construction company.
Projected to cost around 28.4 million birr, for now only one butchery, Abergale, and some fruit and vegetable companies located in Southern Tigray region have agreed to store their export items at the facility. However more are expected when it starts running, according to Wondim
Meanwhile the Bahir Dar Ginbot 20 International Airport cold store project has officially begun service after it was finished last month, already stoking the interest of Tana Flora, they also expect meat and produce companies to follow suit.
The storage area that began construction in September 2008 and finished two months ahead of schedule was completed by another Dutch firm; Celtics.
A supporting office was built by Memarafi Construction company while the access road was constructed with the Airport Enterprise’s own staff. The final tab was 21 million birr.
Mekelle and Bahir Dar, located 783Km and 587Km north of Addis Ababa respectively, were targeted for the cold storage project because investments outside of the capital were increasing and they needed to equate investments with infrastructure projects.
“The flights planned for departure from Mekelle and Bahir Dar are mainly arranged to operate Middle Eastern airports like Dubai and Jeddah,” Wogayehu Terefe Ethiopian Airlines manager of public relations and publications told Capital.
The airliner says the upcoming direct flights will assure fresh delivery of meat products that could perish if they suffer delays. The frequency of the flights will be determined by the demand she added.
No new plans are in the works for more cold storage but Ethiopian Airlines announced recently that it will soon fly direct cargo planes from the two regional cities, to multiple European and Middle Eastern destinations.