Rwanda’s Airport Grand Plan

Rwanda’s Airport Grand Plan

Kigali International Airport

While many countries see aviation as an important part of their countries’ infrastructure, Rwanda stands out as one of the only countries in the world that have placed the air transportation industry at the core of its development plan. Succinctly, Rwanda intends its country and hub international airport to not only be the biggest aviation hub in Africa but to perhaps rivaling others like New York, London and its ideal goal, Singapore.

Let’s dive into its commercial aviation landscape and its airports.

What is the main airport of Rwanda?

As Rwanda is a relatively small country in Africa, Kigali International Airport serves as the primary gateway for both international and domestic air travel.

It has a single runway 3,500 meters (11,482 ft) long and is operated by the Rwanda Aviation Authority. It previously had a second runway, but this was shut down in 1993.

This airport has been upgraded in past years but still struggles to keep up with surging demand. The main two-story terminal building only has six gates, and despite being designed for a few hundred thousand passengers per year, actually facilitated 710,000 passengers in 2016.

To become the Singapore of Africa, Rwanda would first need to fix its airport capacity problem by building a new airport.

What is the new airport project?

Thanks to this demand, the government has made plans to build a new international airport called Bugesera International Airport. It will have a longer, 4,206 meter (13,800 ft) runway, with room for a second, and will operate in tandem with the existing Kigali International Airport. The first phase of construction will build a 30,000 square foot terminal capable of accommodating seven million passengers per year (more than ten times the original International airport), and a second terminal in 2032 that will allow it to cater for up to 14 million passengers per year.

Qatar Airways has bought a 60% stake in this new international airport.

“The partnership features three agreements to build, own, and operate the state-of-the-art facility,” the Rwanda Development Bureau said in a statement. “The agreements signed today mark a key milestone in the development of Rwanda’s vibrant aviation sector, in the context of the excellent bilateral relationship between Qatar and Rwanda.”

Originally the new airport project was estimated to cost $418 million US for phase one, and an additional $382 million for phase two. But with the inclusion of the new partner Qatar Airways, the airport budget has bellowed out to a staggering $1.31 billion US. These additional funds have allowed the airport to be redesigned for a significantly increased capacity, at the cost of project delays as the new plans were realized.

What about the country’s other airports?

Other airports in the country include:

  • Butare Airport in the south of the country. It has a single short runway of only 860 meters (2,820 ft) for regional jets
  • Kamembe Airport to the extreme west of the country. It receives plenty of traffic from Uganda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo thanks to its unique border location.
  • Gisenyi Airport – Like Kamembe Airport, this airport is located on the westerly border of Rwanda in the city of Gisenyi. It currently serves as a charter airport.
  • Nemba Airport – On the southern border with Burundi lies Nemba Airport. It has a single 1,100 meter (3,600 feet) runway.
  • Ruhengeri Airport – The largest active airport in the country by area, this facility serves the town of the same name and the northern state. It has a 1,480 m (4,860 feet) runway.

All of these airports are run and operated by the same government authority.

Rwanda’s airports in 2021

Like many other countries, Rwanda was hit hard by the effects of the 2020 global lockdown and had to close its airspace to all traffic (sans cargo operated by flag carrier Rwandair). But through an effective health program and implementing biosecurity features at airports, Rwanda was able to reopen its borders by August 2020.

As part of its strict entry requirements, Rwanda ensured that any new arrivals to Kigali had to have a negative COVID test and do a second test at the airport – quarantining at home or hotel for at least 24 hours until a double negative result was recorded.

This was so effective that the European Union approved Rwanda, the only country from sub-Saharan Africa, to fly operations to its home countries. While the virus has been a hurdle to overcome, it has hardly been a roadblock for Rwanda.

What can we learn from Rwanda?

It is not common that you find a country that does nearly everything right in the world of aviation, and when you do, the lessons can be invaluable.

Rwanda has correctly prioritized aviation as its saving grace to becoming an international power, supplying the right expertise to reach its ambitions with its partnership with Qatar Airways, and ensuring that its growth is not limited by capacity.

If Eways Aviation can offer one item of constructive criticism it would be this; while the capital is receiving plenty of attention, additional focus could be placed on regional airports especially those next to borders. Because other nations might lack the foresight to invest in regional aviation, Rwanda could effectively double-dip its aviation capacity from international passengers crossing from border communities.

Many countries in Africa harbor lofty ambitions of becoming a large flag carrier with an international hub airport, but it seems for Rwanda – this dream is close to reality.

RwandAir: The Singapore Airlines Of Africa

RwandAir: The Singapore Airlines Of Africa

RwandAir maiden flight to London-Gatwick Airport, May 26, 2017

Rwanda is a smaller nation-state compared to its neighbors to the north, east, and west. Unlike Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, Rwanda doesn’t have a large domestic market nor a thriving commercial airline market – it only has one government flag carrier airline called RwandAir.

This airline is the key to Rwanda’s plan to become a powerhouse economy centered around the Singapore model. Like its goal in Asia, Rwanda is a smaller state surrounded by bigger regional markets. If it can make its home airline the defacto international flag carrier for the region, then it will be able to cement its pivotal role well into the future.

The solo airline of the country

RwandAir is actually the spiritual successor of the countries previous carrier Air Rwanda. The former operation ceased during the civil strife in 1994, and while attempts were made at offering services in the intermediate years with Uganda-based SA Alliance Air, it wasn’t until 2002 that flag-owned operations were reborn.

Humbly beginning its tenure as ‘Rwanda Express’, the carrier slowly expanded with a small fleet of leased regional jets (such as CRJs), before rebranding to RwandAir to better represent the mantle of the nation’s flag carrier. In 2011, the carrier took on its first first-hand aircraft, a fleet of Boeing 737-800s. Other notable achievements in these early years also include becoming an Africa-wide international carrier to Accra, Cape Town, Harare, and Zanzibar in 2013, and becoming an IATA member in 2015. Today, the airline flies internationally to Dubai, London, Brussels, Mumbai, and Guangzhou.

The airlines fleet consists of:

  • One Airbus A330-200 and a single A330-300
  • Two Boeing 737-700s and four 737-800s (plus an order for two 737 MAX aircraft)
  • Two CRJ900ERs and two of the very popular Dash 8 Q400 turboprops

The carrier did have an order for Two Airbus A330-900neo (next generation of the A330 series) and two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in 2019, however they were canceled in 2020 due to the downturn in air travel.

“We can confirm that, as reported, RwandAir’s decision to no longer move forward with its order of two Airbus A330neos and two Boeing 737 Max aircraft is correct”, Chief Executive Officer Yvonne Makolo confirmed to ch-aviation

Future ambitious

Part of the Rwandair fleet

In 2020, the government sold 49% of the carrier to Qatar Airways.

“We’re going to take a stake in their national carrier because we see that Africa is another region that has huge growth potential,” Qatar CEO Al Baker was quoted by Reuters.

This investment coincided with Qatar Airways’ investment in the new Bugesera International Airport. As seen in other markets, Qatar likes to heavily invest in vertical integration in markets – owning both the airport and its flag airline. With this investment, Rwandair will be able to springboard into more long-range aircraft and operate significantly longer-range routes – perhaps even to North America from Accra in Ghana.

“RwandAir has already secured authorization from the Government of the Republic of Ghana to use Kotoka International Airport as the Last Point of Departure (LPD) into the United States of America,” the airline said to Ch-Aviation. “At Accra, the airline will exercise fifth (5th) freedom traffic rights as provided for in the bilateral air service agreements of both US and Ghana with Rwanda.”

While Rwandair has existing pre-approval to fly operations to the United States, it is not with their own aircraft and crews (the carrier is allowed to wet-lease and charter North American operators). With support from Qatar Airways, Rwanda hopes to achieve the coveted International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating – allowing flights from Rwanda to New York via Ghana.

Turbulence in the new decade

It hasn’t been a completely smooth ride, however, with the airline suffering like many others due to the global Coronavirus crisis. The Rwanda government has offered the carrier a stimulus boost of RWF145.1 billion Rwandan Francs (USD153 million) to help it through the Coronavirus crisis. These funds will help the carrier keep crew employed (although with significant pay cuts expected) and allow the airline to keep its ambitious network expansion goals.

To help compensate for the loss of passenger revenue, the carrier entered the cargo space. Operating flights from Asia to the Middle East, then onwards to Europe via Rwanda, it was able to prove that it was up to the role most often identified with large international premium carriers.

Proof enough for Rwandair to evolve its operation into passenger service.

We have been operating cargo and repatriation flights from London Heathrow during the pandemic, and we are now delighted to operate scheduled passenger flights for the first time into and out of one of Europe’s premier airports. The move will significantly benefit customers flying into Heathrow from other UK cities who then wish to fly on seamlessly to Rwanda and other parts of Africa. It has never been easier to reach Kigali or cities such as Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta, Entebbe/Kampala, Lusaka, and Harare Int’l for passengers traveling from London,” said Chief Executive Yvonne Makolo

A bright future:

Rwandair has something that many other airlines in the region don’t have – a broad vision of the future. While its competitors squabble for regional routes, Rwandair is concentrating on vast international operations across the world, becoming a house-hold name in big cities like New York, London and more.

For Rwandair, there is no telling how high they can go.

Covid cleaning procedures for aircraft: How to clean a plane top to bottom!

Covid cleaning procedures for aircraft: How to clean a plane top to bottom!

Keeping an aircraft clean is a tough job on the best of days when all you have to worry about is a spilled bag of pretzels on the floor. But in 2021, airlines need to be aware of the very real danger of the Coronavirus, and through keeping the aircraft sterilized, keep passengers healthy and safe. But what are the best ways to clean an aircraft?

Eways Aviation has prepared the following video tutorial that explains the best process for cleaning an aircraft cabin (and in what order). We have taken into account the sanitation recommendations from the FAA, EASA and ICAO in this video:

 

Cleaning the cabin

EASA recommends the following cabin cleaning procedure. Starting with the main cabin, cleaning crews should disinfect the floor front to aft, and then back again, giving time for the floor to become sterilized. 

Then cleaners should focus on the following areas in a top to bottom motion. 

  1. Ceiling, overhead bins, the reading light, and air-supply nozzles, side panels, windows, and window shades
  2. Seats, including the headrest which is commonly touched by passengers when moving in the cabin, tray tables, in-flight entertainment screens, armrests, seat belts, magazine racks, and safety cards
  3. Bulkheads and cabin crew seats
  4. The crew should then move onto the bathrooms and lavatories, starting with the ceiling and moving downwards to the walls, toilet, bins, basins, door surface, and especially the locks and handles. 
  5. The galley of the aircraft is next, with the ovens, water boilers, coffee makers, and drawers taking special attention. 
  6. If the aircraft has a separate crew compartment or rest area, it should be thoroughly cleaned before each flight. This area should also be cleaned with airline staff supervision, and not missed by local contractors. 
  7. Other areas of focus – all cabin interphones, crew seat harnesses, and equipment used for the pre-flight safety demonstration. 

Now a special note about seats. Because all airlines are different, there is a combination of materials for seats that don’t always allow ideal cleaning. 

  1. Woven materials such as seat covers need to be removed and dry cleaned, as disinfectant won’t quite penetrate and effectively remove the virus for safe usage. 
  2. Leather surfaces need to be carefully cleaned with mild products, as it is easily damaged by heavier products. 
  3. Coated fabrics with synthetics need a special product. Airlines will need to check with manufacturers. 

All of these surfaces need to be wiped first with a cleaning cloth, then with disinfectant, and then finally with a third and separate drying cloth to remove any residual chemical irritants. It goes without saying that these three cleaning tools should be separated at all times and even welded by different crew members to avoid cross-contamination.

During this entire cleaning process, the aircraft’s air conditioner must be turned off, and then wholly cycled once complete. Cleaning crews should also replace their face masks and other personal protection equipment every four hours of work, as they are no longer effective at trapping the virus.

As always, airlines are also recommended to check with the aircraft manufacturer for any special cleaning procedures, and with their local aviation authority.

Using new technology

Some airlines might have the option to use new UV or sanitizing fog technology to quickly clean the cabin environment. These tools can penetrate far deeper into surfaces than a standard cleaning tool (like a cloth) and can dramatically reduce the number of team members required to clean a plane.

“The process is simple and includes a ground service agent spraying each surface of the aircraft with a fogging machine that sprays a disinfectant that sticks to surfaces but is safe to breathe.” Delta Air Lines spokesperson to Business Insider. “American Airlines identified 11 surface points that would be targeted for fogging including seats, in-flight entertainment screens, tray tables, overhead bins, and lavatories, among others,” said another spokesperson for American Airlines.

However, team members need to be sure that they don’t solely rely on these technologies, as a spot uncleaned could form a breeding ground for an outbreak on the plane.

Finishing up the job

Once the aircraft is cleaned, the crew should take care when removing personal protection equipment, avoiding contact with the skin until the hands are sanitized and all equipment is securely disposed of.

Eways Aviation recommends that this operation be diligently performed by a trained team, preventing cross-contamination whilst completing the task quickly enough for an effective turnaround that readies the plane in a timeous fashion for the next flight.

 

China’s Influence In African Aviation

China’s Influence In African Aviation

Chinese President Xi Jinping and foreign leaders attending the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) head for the venue of the summit’s opening ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 3, 2018. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

If you are involved in aviation in Africa, or any other major international industry for that matter, then you know about the rise of Chinese investment. The powerful Asian nation has been flexing its diplomatic muscle, not through military might but rather economically through its Belt and Road Initiative. China sees Africa, the oldest continent on earth, as key to becoming the leader of the world for the next century. When it comes to aviation. China has been prolific with investment across the African region to the point, in some cases, of single-handly financing huge projects. Where has China invested in African aviation and what does it mean? Let’s explore

Why is China interested in Africa?

First, we will discuss why China is interested in Africa, and then why Africa, as a whole, needs support from the dragon of the East. As this is rather a political issue, this article will remain as neutral as possible.

China is growing, and this growth needs raw resources and materials to maintain the quality of life of its 700 million middle-class citizens. Africa is the most resource-rich region in the world and despite being ‘harvested’ by other colonial powers for hundreds of years, is still untapped. Thus if China can secure mutually beneficial trade routes with resource-rich nations, it can essentially secure its future. And if China can do so as part of its political game with the West and get an upper hand, then more credit to them.

Why does Africa need investment?

There are two major reasons why Africa aviation needs investment, either from China or from somewhere else.

First, Africa is heavily divided between countries with radical ideologies, cultures, and languages. This has prevented a single unified aviation space like North America or Europe from coming to fruition (although many have tried). China has stepped in to offer its expertise with policing large aviation spaces and provide the necessary technology to do so.

Second, African aviation has very high fixed costs. Unlike Europe with its close cities and existing infrastructure where it is easy for a small nation to operate its own fleet of modern aircraft, or a private airline to get started, African ventures need to bring everything from other continents. In fact, even engine MRO needs to be performed as far away as Britain for some carriers, resulting in costly empty maintenance flights with multiple stops. China has thus begun a “China-Africa regional aviation cooperation plan” to encourage as many joint-ventures as possible to fix these problems.

“Study supportive measures, provide necessary policy and capital support and build better conditions and platforms for business cooperation.”Ministry of Commerce for the Peoples Republic of China.

For local shareholders, the introduction of a country like China with its vast wealth is welcomed, as it has greatly reduced the risk they face with solo investing in the local aviation market. Speaking of investments…

Where have they invested?

There are several major types of investments that China has made in Africa’s aviation space, but not all of them are equal. China has primarily been involved in the construction of airports throughout the continent, as well as airline operations (through Chinese flag carriers) and some joint ventures (although this last category is growing).

Between US$27 billion and US$38 billion are currently being spent on or earmarked for spending on 77 construction and associated hardware projects at airports in Africa. China was named concerning Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zambia. The average price for all projects was US$440 million. – The Conversation report on investments in Airports in Africa 

Of the total US$38 billion spent, China is estimated to be involved with around one-third of all these airport projects. Some include:

  • Luanda (Angola) – $3.8 billion
  • Maputo – $615 million
  • Zambia airport projects – $360 million
  • Addis Ababa International Airport – $345 million
  • Mauritius – $260 million
  • Sierra Leone – $190 million
  • Mauritania – $136 million

These figures don’t include Chinese bank loans for a new airport in Ethiopia for US$3 billion, or Sudan for US$1.4 billion. And many other investments too small to count.

Ethiopia has benefited hugely by having an early and positive relationship with China. Currently, Ethiopia operates nearly 50 cargo flights between China and its hub in Addis Ababa, and formed one of the essential links to bring medical supplies to Africa during the coronavirus crisis.

“We have been in China since 1973, so close to half a century. We’re among the very senior operators in China. We have also gained a position ourselves in the right strategic position when China started to invest in Africa heavily, especially in infrastructure. So that has created a very significant passenger air cargo traffic between China and Africa.” – Ethiopian Airlines, Group CEO, Tewolde GebreMariam to CAPA

What about other ways of investing in Africa?

Away from direct project involvement, there are several other ways China has shown its influence. For one, any partnered country can count on the goodwill of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (equivalent to the USA FAA) to quickly approve any lucrative revenue routes for its flag carrier to China – well before a rival airline from a competitive state. A unique advantage few airlines would give up, and something that could make or break an airline’s attempt to operate to Asia.

Plus, it is not just cargo and trade that benefits from a close relationship with China, but tourism too. China has roughly 135 million international tourists that spread over the globe each year, and in 2019 China added upwards of 19 African states to its list of approved tourist destinations. A lucrative source of revenue.

China can also help airlines with poor credit secure new aircraft – be it western made (Airbus and Boeing) or from China itself (it’s own COMAC series of aircraft) at very attractive lease rates. Speaking of its own aircraft, China has also suggested that it will offer free training and spare parts for new aircraft, to save face if anything were to go wrong with its exported designs (and hence avoiding the problems with Interjet and its Russian-made Superjet 100s). Overall, this means that a state carrier with a few handshakes can find itself operating the same aircraft as a European carrier or using Chinese-made planes with no risk to its bottom line.

In 2021, China sent its top diplomat, State Councilor, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on a five-nation tour of Africa, taking in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Tanzania, and Seychelles. On this diplomatic mission, he signed several trade agreements to open up new African markets to China and recommit to several infrastructure projects – particularly in Nigeria (one of the largest aviation markets in the world) and Tanzania.

In addition, it was to garner support for the upcoming Forum of China-African Cooperation. This year, the summit with a focus on “three priority areas of vaccine cooperation, economic recovery, and transformative development.” It is the latter that is of the most interest to the aviation industry, which judging by the previous action plan (listed below) will greatly benefit regional areas and help new African airlines.

“[China will] provide regional aircraft for civilian use, train aviation professionals for Africa, provide capacity building to enable compliance with ICAO standards and recommended practices and support Chinese companies in setting up joint ventures with African airlines and African businesses and participating in the building of airports and other auxiliary infrastructure to advance Africa’s regional aviation.” – China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021)

Does this investment have strings?

One of the problems with this Chinese investment is that it’s not equal across the continent. China is cherry-picking projects that it sees will benefit its country and its growth the most, leaving some areas (especially those high in population and low in raw elements) without recourse. This is leading to a continent with several strong aviation hubs centered around trade with China, with other nations missing out.

“Many of these investments are offered as loans to these nation-states. Loans that some might struggle to pay and could generate a loss of control on their own infrastructures. However, China insists that this isn’t a risk and seems to have made moves to squash this rumor. In 2021, Foreign Minister Wang Yi on his diplomatic mission to the region signed “debt service suspension agreements with twelve African countries and provided waivers of matured interest-free loan for another fifteen on his trip“.

Plus, China has become deeply integrated with some African nations, offering a lifeline of support, financing, and business through its routes. If the government wanted to read adjust the board, China could delay approvals or pull support from one to another country to get the best deal possible. An unthinkable scenario, but something to be aware of nonetheless. Some African countries in negotiation have been courting investment from other sources such as the World Bank in order to leverage a better deal.

The rise of China

A new age is coming for nations in Africa, and it may seem that China is approaching them with no-strings partnerships that will make Africa become the greatest aviation market in the world.

But those who do partner up with the nation need to keep in mind that what China does, it does for China. No matter how great a shiny new airport is or a lucrative route to Asia, it could be a risky proposition. African nations will need to negotiate a fair agreement, one that takes into account the general public best interest. For many, however, the offer of interest-free loans and expert support is something too good to pass up – especially at the price China is offering.

“If you want to do large-scale construction you either turn to a western firm or to a Chinese firm, but the Chinese firm is always able to undercut [the price]” says Daan Roggeveen, the founder of MORE Architecture and author of many works on urbanization in China and Africa to Forbes.

Airports in Algeria, a promising future

Airports in Algeria, a promising future

Houari Boumediene Airport

In our last article, we discussed how the aviation landscape of Algeria is dominated by its two state-owned carriers. However, this is only half of the preverbal aviation pie – the other half being the condition of its airport landscape. After all, without a robust airport infrastructure, be it for domestic operations or international arrivals, no other player will dare tread into the market – despite how encouraging the government might be.

As Algeria is such as developed country and rich in natural resources, there is actually more than one point of entry into the country. The coastline is dotted with foreign resorts, while the inland has vast oil wealth. This article will cover the key airports and others that you need to know in 2021.

Houari Boumediene Airport

The country has three major international airports, the most important is the capital’s Houari Boumediene Airport. Located approximately 16.9 km (10 and a half miles) from Algiers, it is secure in its ranking due to its popularity and diplomatic status. Both the two flag carriers, Air Algerie and Tassili Airlines base their fleet in this airport, and many international carriers operated services here in better times (21 as of early 2020).

The airport has two matching runways of 3,500m each and three terminals. The most recent terminal was completed in 2019 and has a capacity of 10 million passengers a year. It is considered the most modern terminal in all of Africa. In combination with the domestic terminal and the charter terminal, the airport itself can cater to up to 18 million passengers. This is a far cry from its current numbers of just over 8 million passengers before the end of covid-related airline restrictions, but the airport is well equiped for future capacity growth.

“The new airport infrastructure has been designed to manage the ever-growing number of passengers from the capital. It also meets the requirements of better organization of flights and better quality of services. The new terminal is in the heart of the Algiers International Airport’s development plan, which runs to 2032.” – Management of Algiers Airport Services and Infrastructures (SGSIA) to media.

Houari Boumediene Airport’s new terminal four

By building the airport so big, Algeria wishes to encourage new airlines to operate services to and from the country, as well as establish regional hubs here for operations through North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Middle East. UAE’s Air Arabia, a vast low-cost carrier with hubs in Morocco, Egypt, and UAE, has shown interest in establishing a new carrier in Algeria.

“This project will require the launching of a new airline dedicated exclusively to Africa. We need a company that can manage this international infrastructure. Air Algerie, which is in great difficulty and which has shown its limits, is not capable of taking up such a challenge.” said Lamine Chouiter, a consultant for Air Arabia who is investigating local partners in the country to African Intelligence.

But ambitious goals don’t just stop there, with the airport planning to build a new airport terminal in seven years’ time (pending a return to international demand).

Ahmed Ben Bella Airport

Next on this list is Ahmed Ben Bella Airport serving the second largest city of Oran. This airport has not only attracted significant domestic attention, but also operations by European low-cost carriers for holiday resorts on the country’s northern coast.  The airport has two runways and two terminals; a domestic terminal which branches off from the existing main international terminal to facilitate increased passenger numbers. So far the facility can handle up to three million passengers but could be quickly expanded to six. As the airport saw nearly two million passengers in recent years, this is a prospect that might come true sooner rather than later.

What other airports are significant?

Mohamed Boudiaf International Airport is the third busiest airport in the country, Mohamed Boudiaf International Airport serves the city of Constantine and resorts on the coastline of the country to the east of the capital. It is operated by a few European low-cost operations and twin domestic carriers.

Other airports include:

  • Rabah Bitat Airport or also known as “El Mellah Airport”, is located a few kilometers south of the city of Annaba. It has two terminals and a capacity of up to 700,000 passengers a year. It doesn’t cater to any international airlines, but the two local airlines do operate international routes to France and Turkey from here (as well as domestic services).

  • Abane Ramdane Airport, or also nicknamed Bejaia Airport, is another coastal port of access between the capital and Mohamed Boudiaf International Airport. As such, it sees traffic from France and Belgium low-cost carriers, and routes by local carriers dipping into the lucrative trade. It only saw below half a million passengers however and has much smaller growth compared to other airports in the region.

What about the future of airports in the country?

When you examine the geographical layout of the country, there is a significant weight of airports in the north of the country along the coast. However, this isn’t where the future of the country’s aviation lies. The future is found in the desert in the south.

Aguenar – Hadj Bey Akhamok Airport, known locally as Tamanrasset Airport, is one set for growth with the government considering expanding the airport to accommodate a new regional airline. Its geographical position in relation to West Africa and other regional centers, makes it perfect for a new low-cost carrier to dominate. Something that might have gone unnoticed locally, but certainly raised interest far and abroad.

“To base a hub and a company of this scale in Tamanrasset will create wealth and extraordinary economic dynamism,” suggested the Air Arabia consultant.