Airports enterprise seeks legal support to bolster operation

-Takes measures against slack personnel

-Work on Addis Ababa Airport expansion expedited


By Kaleyesus Bekele


The Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE) is seeking a new proclamation that would enable it to play a leadership role in airport operations and improve the quality of service it provides to customers.


This was disclosed on Wednesday when members of the House of People’s Representatives Transport Affairs Standing Committee visited the enterprise. Tewodros Dawit, CEO of EAE, told MPs that the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise plans to become the leading airport service provider in Africa by 2025. To attain its vision, the enterprise is enhancing its capacity by building new airports and expand the existing ones Tewodros said.


“We have to improve the quality of service we provide to customers. We work with many stakeholders and we cannot bring about the required change in service delivery all by ourselves. We need to collaborate with stakeholders. But EAE should play the leading role,” Tewodros told MPs.


EAE works with, among others, airlines, service providers, customs, immigration and security authorities. However, Tewodros said that the critical role of EAE is misunderstood and underestimated by most stakeholders.

“If we want to be the leading airport service provider in Africa we should provide world class airport service. In order to do that the enterprise should transform if self within three or four years. The enterprise should coordinate all the stakeholders and play the leadership role. And most stakeholders underestimate the leading role of the enterprise. So we need a proclamation that strengthens the leadership role of the enterprise,” Tewodros said.


According to the CEO, the EAE has presented the proposal to the Board of Directors of the enterprise and the Ministry of Transport; however, he said the enterprise needs a proclamation that would be endorsed by the House of Peoples’ Representatives. “We need your help in this regard,” he told MPs.


The chairman of the Standing Committee for Transport Affairs, Kamil Ahmed, assured Tewodros that the committee would extend the required assistance to the enterprise. “There is nothing that could not be rectified in this country. What you need to do is prepare a convincing proposal for the enactment of a new proclamation,” Kamil told senior executives of EAE.


The Ethiopian Airports Enterprise is tasked with building and administering airports in the country. EAE is also responsible for developing non-aeronautical businesses in airports. The enterprise administers 21 airports, of which four are international and seventeen are asphalted. EAE is making hefty investments on building new airports in the regional states and expanding the existing ones. The enterprise has built and expanded 15 airports in the country. Currently, it is building five regional airports and expanding the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal at a cost of USD 345 million.


EAE has conducted a major apron expansion work at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport with an outlay of 1.3 billion birr, boosting the airport parking capacity from 19 to 52 aircraft. It also recently built a separate apron area for the general aviation. Passenger terminal 2, which was inaugurated in 2003, has a design capacity of handling six million passengers yearly and was meant to serve for 20 years. But the passenger traffic surpassed the design capacity ten years after it entered into service. Currently, passenger traffic is estimated at 7.6 million. The passenger traffic is growing 20-25 percent yearly.


To cope with the fast-growth of Ethiopian Airlines and the growing number of foreign airlines coming to Addis Ababa, the enterprise has embarked on the passenger terminal expansion project, which is believed to boost the capacity of the airport three-fold to 22 million passengers per annum.


The expansion project includes the construction of the a new terminal with a floor area of 72,000sqm on the right and left side of terminal two, upgrading and expanding the old terminal (Terminal one) and the construction of a new VIP terminal building. The existing terminal has a floor area of 48,000sq.m. Currently, there are 28 check-in counters. When the expansion work is completed, 70 additional counters will be in place.


The new terminal will have two-storeys—departure and arrival halls—a bridge connecting Africa Avenue/Bole Street with the departure hall and a large modern parking area. The old and new terminal will merge to form a single massive terminal. A separate VIP terminal building with separate parking lots will be built. VIPs will have their own lounges and boarding gates. The new terminal will have multiple-duty free shops, restaurants, cafés and ICT centers.


The expansion project was launched me year and a half ago at a cost of USD 225 million. The project is fully financed by a loan secured from EXIM Bank of China. EAE decided to scale up the expansion project after construction commenced and this has escalated the project cost to USD 345 million. A Chinese construction firm, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), is the contractor of the project.


The Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China has agreed to avail additional 120 million dollars loan to fill the financing gap. At the moment the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation is working on the additional loan with EXIM Bank of China.     


According to Ayele Yirgu (Eng.), work on the expansion project is well under way. “Pile foundation work, basement and ground floor have been completed. Seventy percent of the civil work has been completed,” Ayele told The Reporter. In addition to the expansion work EAE has repaired the leaking roof of terminal two. “Seventy-one percent of the roof maintenance work has been completed. The roof is not leaking now.”


Tewodros told the visiting MPs that 23 percent of the overall expansion work has been completed and the remaining 70 percent will be finalized in the coming one year and a half. “The project contact time is three years and the construction work is right on track. Once the civil work is completed the airport machines and equipment will be imported and installed. That would take a short period of time.” 


In addition to the expansion work, the EAE is planning to build a mega hub airport outside of Addis Ababa. EAE is in the process of selecting a site for the planned airport city. A French consulting firm called ADPI has been hired for the project. ADPI has conducted a study on the site location and submitted the report to EAE. Three prospective sites have been selected and presented to the government for decision. The mega hub airport is planned to have a number of terminals, four runways will have the capacity to handle 80 million passengers per annum and estimated to cost some four billion dollars. The project will be undertaken in different phases and may take up to 20 years to finalize the whole project. International lending institutions have already shown interest to finance the project.


Executives of EAE believe that the planned airport city will make Ethiopia the aviation hub of Africa and the Middle East and the international airport will be on a par with London’s Heathrow and airports in Dubai. EAE hopes to embark on construction of the airport city at the end of the second term of the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).      


The Standing Committee for Transport Affairs visited the ongoing expansion work and airport facilities at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. The MPs visited the new modern luggage handling system, a modern security surveillance system recently installed at the airport, new body scanners, the fire department, and electric power substation.


After the extended visit, Tewodros Dawit made a briefing on the overall operations of the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise, its ambitious plan to become the leading airport service provider in Africa and making Addis Ababa a preferred hub in Africa and the Middle East.


Financial limitations, inefficient procurement, difficulties in retaining qualified personnel due to volatile markets, problem of enforcement of airport service and procedures, lack of having common vision, working without dated procedures, capacity limitation with respect to manpower, system and technology and high staff turnover are the major challenges facing the enterprise. Tewodros said that the enterprise has made internal evaluation and took measures on management members and employees who failed to discharge their responsibilities. “Some have been removed from their posts and others have been given warnings,” the CEO said.      

The MPs told executives of EAE that they were very impressed by their visit. “We learnt that EAE is operating high tech equipment. We appreciate the ongoing massive airport expansion projects in Addis Ababa and in the regional states,” MPs said. They lauded the enterprise’s endeavor in availing safe, secured and reliable air transport service in the country. The MPs asked why EAE is not publicizing its work to the public. “This is a hidden organization which is undertaking national projects making us very proud and you need to inform the public of the ongoing development projects” MPs said.


Kamil Ahmed said that EAE should focus on coordinating the stakeholders, human capital development and planned future projects. “EAE and the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority are the backbones of Ethiopian Airlines and you need to work more in a coordinated manner. You have to be ready for the future. We are very satisfied with what we saw today. You are on the right track but you need to work harder to meet future demands,” Kamil said.


EAE spinned off from the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and became an independent institution ten years ago.