Rwanda awards Bugesera airport construction to Chinese state construction firm


News broke a few days ago that Rwanda had finally awarded the contract for the new international airport at Bugesera to the winning bidder, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation. The move was overdue and anxiously awaited by Rwanda’s aviation fraternity, in particular RwandAir, which expansion drive depends largely on the new airport coming on line in a few years time. The Rwandan national airline is expected to commence direct long haul flights after their two ordered B787 Dreamliners have been delivered, expected to be in the 2015/6 period, and then urgently requires state of the art facilities capable to cater for the traffic expected by then. With the fullest support of the Rwandan government RwandAir is turning Kigali into a major hub for transit passengers, who are using the airline to fly beyond Kigali to the growing number of West African, Southern African, Eastern African and Gulf destinations.

The cost of the new state of the art airport is expected to top 650 million US Dollars at current prices, a massive investment by Rwanda as part of creating infrastructure to position the country better as a leisure and MICE tourism destination as well as an ICT and mining / manufacturing hub in central Eastern Africa.

The present airport, while conveniently located near the city – Bugesera will be some 25 kilometres outside the city limits and requires to be linked by a dual carriage highway – is bursting at the seams as a result of RwandAir over the last two years literally doubling passenger numbers and expecting a further significant rise of point to point and transit passengers in 2013, while other international airlines like Brussels Airlines, KLM, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, Air Uganda and others have added flights, stretching handling capacity of Kanombe way beyond its intended limits. Work is currently going on at Kanombe to enlarge the passenger departure lounge and gates spaces to make the transition period until Bugesera comes on line in approximately 2016/7 easier to bear for airlines and passengers. Overall traffic at Kanombe grew last year by a staggering 30 percent, and further double digit increases are projected for the coming years, as RwandAir will add at least two more aircraft in 2014, bringing the fleet by then to 9.

President Paul Kagame confirmed his government’s commitment to this correspondent at the end of February during his monthly meeting with invited media houses, that RwandAir and the new airport, besides the new national convention centre, will get the necessary funding, while keeping the avenue of a public private partnership through strategic investors open as a future option to recoup some of the investment advanced by government at a later stage.

Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from all over Eastern Africa.

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