Ethiopian Airlines will start work on a new $5 billion airport later this year its chief executive officer was quoted as saying, as the carrier outgrows capacity at its current base in Addis Ababa.
The airport, which will cover an area of 35 square km, will be built in Bishoftu, south-east of the capital and have the capacity to handle 100 million passengers a year, the state-run Ethiopian News Agency quoted Tewolde Gebremariam as saying.
“Bole Airport is not going to accommodate us; we have a beautiful expansion project. The airport looks beautiful and large but with the way we are growing, in about three or four years we are going to be full,” Tewolde said.
Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa has a passenger capacity of 19 million annually.
Tewolde noted the price tag of the new airport was higher than the $4 billion cost of building the still-to-be-completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile, with projected passenger numbers topping those at Dubai’s international airport.
He did not give details of construction funding or who would build the new airport.
The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Tewolde as saying construction will start in the next six months.
State-owned Ethiopian Airlines, which competes with large Middle East carriers to connect long-haul passengers, built a patchwork of African routes from its Addis Ababa hub to fly customers to expanding Asian markets.
It has 116 aircraft in its fleet and its net profit rose to $260 million in the 2018/19 financial year from $207.2 million a year earlier.