Dar ‘4th worst airport’ in Africa

Even as it underwent expansion eight years ago, stakeholders predict that Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) runway will not provide sufficient capacity beyond 2020.

It is estimated that air craft movement per hour at JNIA will double from 78,000 in 2013 to 154,333 in 2020 making the runway insufficient to accommodate such a growing demand.

In his presentation during the 2014 World Airport Summit held in September, Tanzania Airport Authority (TAA) chief executive officer Suleiman Suleiman said such forecast air traffic suggested the present runway would not provide sufficient capacity beyond 2020. 

“Growth in tourism, availability of abundant natural resources, mining activities, oil and gas exploration and growth in economic activities are among the key reasons for the forecast air traffic increase,” said Mr Suleiman.

Other drivers for air traffic increase at JNIA include enhanced domestic incomes, which will increase propensity to travel, economic growth in developing countries and increasing domestic economic activities - an increase in domestic business travel .

JNIA runway and apron at Terminal 2 were upgraded with investment of $29.9 million in 2006. BAM International was the contractor for the renovation.

However, according to Mr Suleiman, the current runway is now operating below its capacity of 55 movements per hours. The airport has two runways: the first runway (05/23) is 3,000 metres long, 46 metres wide and is paved with asphalt, while the second runway (14/32) is 1,000 metres long, 30 metres wide and is also paved with asphalt.

Commenting on the matter, Abdulkadir Mohamed, an aviation stakeholder is sceptical that the existing runway will fail to provide sufficient capacity beyond 2020.

“In my opinion, the runway is long enough. It can only be overawed if the country will have a strong carrier,” said Mr Mohamed. He noted that a strong national airline was key to increased air traffic at JNIA to make Dar es Salaam the hub of aviation activities in the country. 

The Travellers’ website sleepinginairports.net recently named JNIA among the worst airports in Africa. sleeping in airports.net’s 2014 Best Airports in Africa survey ranks JNIA as the fourth worst airport on the African continent. 

“From dirty floors and bathrooms to regular request for bribes, travellers were seriously unimpressed with the airports that made it onto this year’s Worst Airports on Africa list,” says the report.

Other complaints revolve around lack of air conditioning in sweltering climates, general navigational chaos, limited yet expensive restaurant options and questionably-effective security processes.

Commenting on the ranking recently, the director of JNIA Moses Malaki said the news was not a shock as the airport’s capacity was overwhelmed by the passenger traffic.He said the airport’s designed capacity was to handle only 1.2 million passengers annually, but currently it was

handling more than 2.5 million passengers.“You can see the mismatch between the designed capacity and the actual number of passengers we handle. 

So, it is obvious that toilets and equipment are limited to accommodate 2.5 million passengers,” said Mr Malaki in an interview. He is, however, optimistic that the ranking will be different after Terminal III starts operations probably in October next year.

“Currently works are going on well at Terminal III. We hope it will start operations in October next year. This will see passengers getting enough accommodation and probably the ranking will improve,” he said. 

After completion of Terminal III domestic arrivals and departures will remain using Terminal II, while international passengers will use the new terminal. According to Mr Malaki, seeing new airlines initiating routes to Dar es Salaam “means that the airport is doing well.” 

“Apart from passenger terminals other infrastructures like the runway and taxing way are good enough to accommodate as many airlines as possible.” “However, we consider the survey to be a challenge and will work on the issues to identify our problems with a view to rectifying and making our airport better.”

According to Mr Suleiman, completion of the terminal will create more than 7,000 employment opportunities.He said the construction would be carried out in two phases, adding that completion of the first phase would enable the new terminal to handle 3.5 million passengers annually.

“The second phase will also include construction and installation of a security system and after its completion the entire new terminal would be able to handle 6.5 million passengers per annum.

“We expect the first phase of this terminal to be over by October 2015,” said Mr Suleiman.
Source: The Citizen, reported by Veneranda Sumila, from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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