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Ethiopian Airlines proposes an ambitious Addis Ababa airport project

Premium Analysis

While it is the case that airlines do sometimes build and operate new airport terminals, and very occasionally airports, the suggestion coming out of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, transcends anything that has gone before it.

It looks as if Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO Tewolde GebreMariam has committed the airline to building a brand new USD5 billion airport at Bishoftu, 40km south of Addis Ababa, to make the city the continent’s leading hub. The 35sqkm airport would have a design capacity for 100 million passengers per annum, which would put it among the five largest airports in the world as things stand, and Mr GebreMariam has claimed that it will be Ethiopian Airlines’ growth that will fill that airport in a few years’ time.

By comparison, the current airport at Bole has a capacity of less than 20 million ppa; Ethiopian Airlines has 93.4% of the seat capacity and 98% of aircraft movements at Bole Airport (week commencing 20-Jan-2020) .

Ethiopia would have to become a major destination for both business and leisure and the primary destination in Africa in the way that the big Middle Eastern airlines capitalise on their hub cities.

Reading between the lines, the project at Bishoftu would be the biggest commitment by an airline to operating an airport, anywhere. 

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