The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) is planning to begin temporary upgrades at the Hosea Kutako International Airport to ease congestion, Acting CEO, Albertus Aochamub, told the Windhoek Observer this week.
The airport was supposed to have undergone major expansion, but the tender was cancelled after a lengthy legal battle.
Following a state visit to China in April by President Hage Geingob, it emerged that China remains determined to clinch the multi-billion dollar upgrade and expansion contract for the airport.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told Geingob that his country stands ready to fund the project whenever Namibia was ready to proceed.
In December 2016, Geingob cancelled the N$7 billion airport expansion tender won by Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group of China, amid allegations of corruption.
Anhui contested the matter in the High Court and won the case, but the State appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of the government.
Last week, the NAC called for expressions of interest from companies with proposals for projects to alleviate the congestion at the airport.
Aochamub said the tender is for temporary expansions of the current facility in certain key areas, namely the check-in hall, security screening point, arrivals hall and the luggage handling areas.
“These are all temporary useful improvements for the next five years. All projections are that traffic volumes will double in another 10 to 15 years and that would therefore necessitate construction of a new airport terminal and improvements of the runway, taxiway and the apron,” Aochamub said when asked why these could not wait until the multi-billion upgrade was completed.
He said the current aerodrome was constructed in 1985 to handle 250,000 passengers a year. At present, the airport handles in excess of 800,000 passengers per annum.
“This is the result of Namibia being a very popular tourist destination and a significant increase in the number of international airlines serving numerous international destinations.”
Media reports this month said the World Bank has told the government to let private investors manage the airport to avoid costly upgrades using taxpayer’s money.
“At present we are engaged in determining funding options for the new airport terminal and related investments to be considered. The options include, but not limited to, a Private Public Partnership, treasury funding, raising money in local currency from local sources against the NAC balance sheet and so forth. Our immediate preoccupation is to resolve the congestion and resultant compliance issues in the short term,” Aochamub said.
Airlines that have started operating flights to Namibia in recent years include Condor Airlines, Qatar Airways, Dutch carrier KLM, Ethiopian Airways, Dubai-based Emirates and Kenyan Airways.