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It’s imperative to build a new airport in Addis Ababa but until then the current one should be upgraded without delay, according to Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab. The capacity of the existing airport is saturated and cannot accommodate the rapidly growing venture of Ethiopian Airlines as well as other carriers passing through the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, he said.
Ethiopian Airports Enterprise is currently upgrading Bole International Airport at a cost of USD 250 million.
Schwab told Capital in Frankfurt, Germany, that after the new airport is ready however, the current Bole International Airport should not be used as a second airport as it will not be economically viable to operate both of them.
Three places are slated for potential new airport construction, Dukem, 25 Kilometers East of Addis Ababa; Mojo 75 Kilometers East of Addis; or Teji 30 Kilometers West of Addis.
When asked why it was necessary to make a USD 250 million expansion at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, if it is going to be idle when the new airport goes operational, the CEO said that the current expansion project is vital for the growth of the industry and the city too.
“One air plane nowadays costs about USD 200 million and when you have a lot of those planes on the ground; the money spent on the expansion is relatively low when compared to what the expansion will bring in terms of revenue for the city,” he said.
“A study made 15 years ago showed that Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport generates some USD 22,000 for the city every time a plane lands; so the expansion is beneficial not only for the airline but for the city too,” the CEO explained.
The Star Alliance CEO was in Addis Ababa recently to meet with Ethiopian Airport Enterprise and Ethiopian Airlines officials to discuss the new airport expansion project. One of Star Alliance’s services to its members is to consult and support new construction and improvement projects of airports and hubs so as to build in a collaborative manner a facility focusing on a seamless travel experience for passengers.
Meanwhile, Star Alliance plans to introduce its seamless hub project in Addis Ababa next year, which involves facilities such as common check-in facilities for Star Alliance members with high components of self-service; and a ‘smooth transfer experience’ for transit passengers.
Ethiopian Airlines joined the Star Alliance group in 2011.
The new expansion project of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, already underway by the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise will triple or even quadruple the terminal’s capacity.
The expansion project includes the construction of a new passenger terminal as an extensions of the existing Terminal 1 (domestic and regional terminal) and terminal 2 (international terminal) as well as the construction of a new VIP passengers’ terminal.
A USD 250 million loan for the project has been obtained from the government of China, and the agreement has been signed by the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Chinese government. The Chinese construction company, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), is undertaking the expansion project.
The French company, ADPI formed in 2000 as a subsidiary of Aéroports de Paris, is consulting the expansion project. ADPI’s landmark projects include Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport, the final assembly line factory complexes for the Airbus A380 at Toulouse and the A400M at Seville, the passenger terminal extension at Bogota Airport. The design work of the expansion project was done by a Singapore company, CPG and the project is expected to be completed within three years.
In a related development, Star Alliance has begun to migrate the operations of member airlines of the alliance to the new Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London, where it built the Star Alliance Hub Airport.
Star Alliance has built one of the most modern airport hubs in London, with 23 of the Alliance airline members, will migrate their operations to this hub at Terminal 2 until the 22nd of October; 14 carriers including Ethiopian Airlines have already joined the new terminal.
The Star Alliance is the world’s largest global airline alliance, headquartered in Frankfurt  Main, Germany. It was founded on May 14, 1997 and the 27 current members have more than 18,500 daily departures combined. These flights reach 1,316 airports in more than 192 countries, with an annual number of more than 637.6 million passengers, representing 24.4% of the global travel market.