The new Freetown International Airport has officially opened to the public for commercial use with the first flight touching down over the weekend.
In a public notice issued past Thursday, the Government of Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation stated that “Consequently, all travelers from Sierra Leone are advised to proceed to the New Freetown International Airport using the Lungi-Port Loko highway effective Saturday 25th March 2023.”
According to international civil aviation experts, clearance has been given to all flights commuting to and from Sierra Leone on the new runway at the Freetown International Airport.
Earlier this month, the new airport was officially commissioned by President Julius Maada Bio.
In his speech during the unveiling of the Airport, President Bio stated, “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, with the latest technology and the highest compliance standards to make it more attractive to more international airlines.”
According to reports, the newly constructed Airport will host up to 10 planes at every given time with a capacity of 50,000 passengers monthly compared to 10,000 monthly using the old Airport. The reason for such massive construction is to make Sierra Leone a hub for international travel in the sub-region.
The new Airport is descriptively night-and-day different from the old one. The 14,000 m² terminal building is three times the size of Freetown International Airport’s existing terminal facility along with arrivals and departures areas for commercial passengers, the development contains a VIP/Presidential channel, improved cargo facilities, and a brand-new air traffic control tower built in the shape of a diamond. This development is a milestone for the country, as it is the first international terminal to be built since it gained independence in 1961.
In addition, there is a duty-free with a wide range of goods and a provision for a five-star hotel which is going to be part of the new Airport. A new runway was also constructed to accommodate any flight, irrespective of size or volume.
The new terminal was built by Summa, a Turkish construction company with a worldwide portfolio of marquee projects including airports, convention centers, 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.