Angola: New Luanda International Airport Opens Today

Luanda — Dr. António Agostinho Neto International Airport (AIAAN), located in the commune of Bom Jesus, municipality of Icolo e Bengo, Luanda province, will be open this Friday, November 10, by the President of the Republic, João Lourenço.

The infrastructure, built 40 kilometers from the country’s capital, will be operational in a phased manner, with the 1st stage reserved for cargo services, until February 2024.

According to the operating schedule of the new Luanda International Airport, the 2nd phase begins in February 2024, with domestic flight operations.

According to the Angolan Government’s planning, the last stage, scheduled for June 2024, will be marked by the start of international flight operations.

As a first step, the new airport will operate with a provisional certification, as there is not yet sufficient experience of infrastructure operations. The gradual opening takes place for safety, testing, certification and staff training reasons, to assess actual demand, as part of procedures that help minimize risks and ensure a smooth transition to full operation.

The new airport infrastructure, valued at US$ 2.8 billion, extends over an area of 1,324 hectares and can accommodate a cargo volume of 130,000 tons/year. According to technical studies, it is the third largest airport in Africa in terms of passenger volume per year.

The expected number is 15 million passengers per year, 10 million on international flights and five million on domestic flights. With two parallel runways, the airport is prepared to receive B747 and A380 aircrafts, the latter considered the largest commercial plane.

The south runway (the largest), which is four thousand meters by 60 meters wide, received, in June 2022, the first experimental flight of a Boeing 777 aircraft from TAAG Angola Airlines.

In addition to the two runways, AIAAN also has 31 boarding lanes, of which 19 for international services and 11 for domestic services, as well as 9 conveyor belts for baggage storage, six of which are dedicated to international flights.

The infrastructure includes 26 counters of the Immigration and Foreigners Service (SME), a parking lot for 1,710 vehicles, as well as space reserved for shops, in an area of 1,825 square meters.

It also has 22 VIP lounges, a clinic and a first aid center attached to the passenger terminal, in addition to contemplating the construction of an airport city from scratch, which will cover a total area of 75 km2.

Dr. António Agostinho Neto International Airport has ramps, elevators and trained staff to pay special attention to people with reduced mobility.

The new airport was designed to be a HUB with domestic, regional and international connections, being Angola’s main gateway to the world.

According to forecasts by the Angolan Government, the entry into operation of the infrastructure will boost the growth of national and regional air transport, potentially benefiting approximately 415 million inhabitants in the sub-region.

It is expected that the new international airport will play an important role in increasing tourism and promoting Angola’s reputation, as it will facilitate the arrival and departure of visitors, expanding flight and service options.

According to the Angolan authorities, the airport will serve as a “showcase of the culture, history and identity of Angola, arousing the interest of tourists and potential investors”, being a strategic resource for tourism growth.

This airport infrastructure is expected to attract more tourists and business travelers, increasing the country’s tax revenues, especially from the tourism sector.

With the airport, Angola hopes to boost, through cargo transport, the export of products such as vegetables, tropical fruits, seafood, fish, among others, according to the coordinator of the property’s Operational Office, José Nóbrega.

As part of the construction of this infrastructure, conditions were created for public transport access to the new airport, through trains and buses, namely the construction of new stations in Bungo, Musseques, Viana and Baia, in addition to a connection station and from the New Airport Railway Terminal.

Brief history

The construction of the new airport dates back to the 90s, when the Council of Ministers approved, in 1997, a Resolution that emanated from a case study developed by the World Bank on “the need for a new airport”.

Eight years later, in 2005, a feasibility study of the new airport was presented, prepared by an American company, Perkins & Will. On May 15, 2006, the Council of Ministers approved Decree No. 12/06, which formalized the reservation of land for the construction of the airport.

In 2007, the Military House of the President of the Republic, specifically the National Reconstruction Office, assumed responsibility for monitoring the project, which was limited to the preparation of the plan and the hiring of the partner (contractor).

In 2012, the Portuguese company A1V2, the first to work at this airport, was hired to carry out the detailed design of the construction work. On May 15, 2015, a contract was signed with China International Found (CIF), a Chinese company that was also responsible for engineering and construction.

On May 19, 2020, addendum no. 1 to the construction contract was signed with the company AVIC, for the definition of what today represents the final project of the airport. On June 17, 2022, the first experimental flight was carried out, using a Boeing 777 aircraft of the national flag carrier – TAAG.

The flight, which departed from “International Airport 4 de Fevereiro”, lasted 13 minutes. This flight served, fundamentally, to test the technical conditions of the runway and movement in airport apron area.

Currently, Dr. António Agostinho Neto Airport is under the temporary management of the ATO (temporary airport manager, entity responsible for the implementation of all management measures that ensure activation and operation), for 12 months.

This comes while the concession process for the long-term management of the new airport is underway. Temporary management, by the ATO, aims to ensure the continuity of operations while the concession process develops. VM/DOJ

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