Sierra Leone President Opens New Terminal at Freetown Airport

posted on 6th March 2023 by Eddie Saunders
Sierra Leone President Opens New Terminal at Freetown Airport

Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio has opened an historic new terminal building at Freetown international airport, the latest milestone in a development plan positioning the pivotal West African state as an aviation hub.

The 14,000 m² terminal building, elegantly designed with a flowing wavelike roof, is three times the size of the airport’s existing terminal and will be able to handle up to 90,000 passengers per month, five times the current capacity, and eight widebody jets simultaneously.

As well as passenger departure and arrivals facilities it includes a VIP/Presidential channel, improved cargo handling and a new air-traffic control tower capped by a diamond design to reflect the country’s status as source of some of the world’s finest gems.

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 ultramodern air terminal that is three times larger than the existing terminal and has brand new facilities that will accommodate up to a 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.’’

The new terminal makes history as the first international passenger facility to be built in Sierra Leone since it gained independence in April 1961.

Sustainably designed with all its power needs met by its 1.5 megawatt (MW) solar farm, Freetown International Airport’s new terminal will be the first fully green one in West Africa.

The new terminal is the latest stage in a development plan to reboot aviation in Sierra Leone, once a regional centre for flying excellence with numerous scheduled and charter flights to UK and European capitals.

Construction of the new terminal comes after the 3.2 km runway, taxiways and aprons were recently re-surfaced and communications beacon modernized at Freetown International Airport, or FNA to use its international air industry designator.

Kabineh Kallon, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Transport and Aviation, said: “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.

It was constructed under a `build, operate and transfer’ contract worth USD270 million signed with the government of Sierra Leone.

Under the contract Summa took on the capital costs involved in construction in exchange for the right to run the airport for 25 years, generating earnings to cover the outlay for construction, before handing over ownership to the Sierra Leone government.

It is similar to the private public partnership model used in the United Kingdom to fund major infrastructure projects.

The next stage of the development plan is construction of a 5-star hotel near the airport along with residential and commercial properties.

This would allow aircrew from international airlines to stay overnight increasing the appeal of Freetown as an aviation hub.

Hotel facilities near the airport currently do not meet standards required by international carriers such as British Airways.