Ethiopia Expands Bole International Airport to 22 Million Passenger Capacity

Bole International Airport (Source:

Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport is poised to take over as the largest airport in Africa upon its commissioning in January 2019. The expanded terminal partially commenced service in September this year after the Eastern wing was completed and at that point, the whole project was 83% completed. The whole project is expected to be inaugurated in 2019.

Ethiopia’s aviation industry was already a force to be reckoned internationally. In 2017, the Ethiopian flag carrier and the airports merged to form a single group. The group’s power in the African market is unprecedented and in October 2018, Ethiopian Airlines partnered with Chad to launch a new carrier. It also has interests in the Mozambican, Zambian, Malawi, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea airlines both planned and established.

The Airline’s plan of having a 120 strong fleet by 2025 was revised to 150 on the back of its growth and the future looks brighter by the day. The project to expand Bole International Airport commenced in December 2015 and is expected to be officially commissioned early next year.

The Bole expansion will make it the largest airport in Africa in terms of passenger handling capacity, besting South Africa’s O.R. Tambo Airport which has the capacity to handle 20 million passengers per year. Bole International will have a capacity of around 22 million passengers per year.

It is no small feat and the investments channeled towards the project prove the fact. $345 million (United States Dollars) has been directed towards the expansion with China Exim Bank providing all the financing required. China has not only helped fund the project but a Chinese contractor is also in charge of construction, namely China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). The French firm, ADPI is supervising the construction.

Once completed, the airport will cement the Ethiopian aviation industry’s dominance in Africa, and possibly push it towards global prominence too. Ethiopian Airlines is already Africa’s biggest by a number of metrics and that its parent group will now have the biggest airport is a testament to the pace of Ethiopia’s take-over of African skies. Recently, ForwardKeys announced that Ethiopia had taken over as the gateway into Africa, Addis Ababa becoming a transfer port even bigger than Dubai.

by Tatenda Gwaambuka

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