Only the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, price tag $4.8 billion, will cost more than the country’s latest project — a new $4 billion mega airport that Ethiopia hopes will boost tourism and the economy, FTNNews reports.
Although a $350-million expansion is under way at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, a whole new airport is planned on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.
The new airport will include several passenger terminals, four runways, and an airport city on the outskirts of the capital.
When it opens more than 10 years from now, it is expected to serve as many as 120 million passengers annually — a demonstration of the government’s desire to develop through investment in huge infrastructure projects, FTNNews reports.
The Ethiopian government wants to grow its aviation, tourism and manufacturing industries. The current airport expansion is expected to increase capacity from 6 million passengers annually to 22 million by 2018.
Combined, the two projects will make Addis Ababa one of the largest aviation hubs in Africa, FTNNews reports.
Tourism generates US$2.9 billion for the Ethiopian economy. New international hotel chains have set up operations in the country. The government has attracted several global brands with Unilever, General Electric and GlaxoSmithKline planning investments to supply international markets.
The new airport will also help showcase government-owned Ethiopian Airlines as it strives to stay the leading airline in Africa. Ethiopian Airlines reported record profits of US$175 million in 2014-2015, FTNNews reports.
By comparison, other major regional airlines are experiencing financial problems and cutting back on routes, including South Africa Airlines and Kenya Airways.
Four African airlines carry more than 5 million passengers a year. SAA, Kenya Airways and Royal Air Maroc have seen virtually no growth. Ethiopian Airlines has doubled its passenger traffic since 2009 and increased the number of aircraft in its fleet.
The new airport will position Ethiopian Airlines to consolidate market share, benefiting from increased passenger traffic and air freight. Addis Ababa could become the main aviation hub in East Africa, overtaking Nairobi over the next decade as passenger traffic surges.