Freetown’s new terminal makes history in Sierra Leone
President, Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, today opened his country’s first new international airport terminal since independence, a key milestone in developing the pivotal West African state as a regional aviation hub.
The new $270 million facility is three times the size of the existing terminal with capacity to handle up to one million passengers a year, five times the current maximum, and is described as a central part of Freetown International Airport’s renaissance.
Powered by a 1.5 MW (megawatt) solar farm the new 14,000sqm facility is the first fully green airport terminal in West Africa and is capable of handling eight widebody passenger aircraft simultaneously.
Its addition is the latest stage in a development plan for Sierra Leonean aviation and follows the recent revamp of the gateway’s 3.2 km runway, taxiways and aprons and modernisation of its communication beacons.
The next stage is construction of a 5-star hotel near the airport so more international airlines will re-establish flights to Freetown. Local hotels currently do not meet aircrew requirements, reducing Freetown’s appeal as a hub where planes can overnight.
President Bio said: “Today is a great day, a new day for all of us. This is the first time in the history of this country that a completely new international airport terminal has been constructed, one that has the latest technology and the highest compliance standards to make it more attractive to more international airlines.
“Today we have an ultra-modern air terminal that is three times larger than the existing terminal and has brand new facilities that will accommodate up to one million passengers a year to make it a major transit hub in the sub-region.
“We now have on offer a safer, modern and very comfortable airport.’’
Kabineh Kallon, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Transport and Aviation, noted: “An airport, as the first point of entry into a country, is the face of that country. This is our airport – the pride of Sierra Leone.
“Again, let us tell our own story to the world – that Sierra Leone is moving in the right direction, in the New Direction. Already, we have at least three more international airlines that have shown interest in landing at this airport.’’
The new terminal was built by Summa, a Turkish construction company with a worldwide portfolio of marquee projects including airports, convention centres and hotels.
Under the terms of the BOT contract signed with the government of Sierra Leone, Summa will now operate the facility for 25 years, generating earnings to cover the outlay for construction, before handing over ownership to the Sierra Leone government.