The airport will have a 13 per cent higher passenger capacity than Kigali airport.
The construction Bugesera International Airport has reached the 10 per cent milestone, five months since work on it started in August 2017.
Portuguese civil contractor Mota Engil who won the bid is seeking to meet a December 2019 deadline for the first phase and then the next phase six months later. The airport is expected to handle 1.7 million passengers per annum.
Mota Engil is building the airport through a public–private partnership. Under the agreement, Mota Engil will operate the airport for 25 years, with an option to extend its tenure by another 15 years to recoup its investment costs. Engineering estimates put the cost of the project at $820 million.
Last year, the government liquidated its stake in I&M Bank to raise Rwf11.5 billion ($13.6 million) to fund its equity in the project. However, State Minister for Transport Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye would not discuss details of the government’s exact stake in the airport.
“We are still mobilising resources and share holdings are confidential for now. We shall let you know by May,” he said.
The government appointed Aviation, Transport and Logistics Company — the holding company for Rwandan airports — to supervise the contractor.
The airport will have a 13 per cent higher passenger capacity than Kigali International Airport, but the new facility will be more modern, with spacious accommodation and a single 3,750 metre runway.
The two airports are 20 kilometres away from each other and Kigali International Airport will be retained for military and VVIP operations.
Kigali International received just over 287,000 passengers in 2016 but air traffic is growing at 12 per cent annually.
Growth is expected to surge further on the back of the visa-on-arrival policy, approved last year, and RwandAir’s network development, which includes direct flights to the US and China to be launched later this year.
Bugesera International Airport will be the country’s third international airport, the other being Kamembe International Airport in western Rwanda, which occasionally gets chartered planes from DR Congo, Uganda and Tanzania.
Kamembe Airport is also being renovated by China Road and Bridge Corporation at a cost of $5.9 million.