After waiting for more than ten years, the people of Senegal are now set to witness the launch of the country’s largest airport on December 7. Located about 40 kilometers east of the capital city, Dakar, the Blaise Diagne International Airport (AIBD) is estimated to have cost $575 million.
With an initial capacity of 3 million passengers a year, the mega airport is among the largest airports in Africa. Over time, its capacity is expected to rise to 10 million passengers a year, making it one of the highest-capacity airports on the content.
According to CNN, the new airport, which is based in Diass village, on the outskirts of Dakar, will replace Senegal’s main airport, Leopold Sedar Senghor International in Dakar, which is expected to cease operations due to congestion.
The new multimillion dollar airport is seating on a 4,500-hectare piece of land in a less crowded area with no heavy traffic jam like in the overcrowded capital. It also has a larger terminal and runways with a capacity to host more people and flights.
“The AIBD airport is definitely a state-of-the-art infrastructure project. The new facility’s increased size can accommodate larger planes like the Airbus A380 and will handle much more air traffic than before,” El Hadji Beye, a civil engineer working in West Africa told CNN.
Boosting the Economy
With a new airport that can accommodate more passengers and flights, the economy of Diass is expected to expand. The government of Senegal also hopes that the airport will help to diversify the country’s economy, which has for a long time relied on Dakar.
The airport will serve as the centerpiece of the “Airport City” and the AIBD team is already planning to develop commercial installations such as hotels, malls, and other business facilities around the facility.
At least 1,000 local retailers will be allowed to operate duty-free shops on the site, which will have a direct impact on the local economy.
“The idea is to see if we could drag economic activities out of Dakar,” AIBD Deputy Director General El Hadji Ibrahima Mane told CNN.
At the moment, Dakar constitutes half of the Senegalese urban population and accounts for about 55 percent of the country’s GDP. But the never-ending traffic congestion in the city makes it difficult for Senghor International Airport to operate to its maximum capacity.