The start of construction of the new international airport at Bugesera has taken another step forward, when it was announced that 9 international companies have been shortlisted by a selection committee within the Rwanda Development Board. Over 30 companies had submitted initial bids and less than a third made it through the first hurdles and into the second stage of the bidding.
The new airport, to be located south east of the city of Kigali some 25 KM distant, is to be designed, financed, constructed, maintained and managed by the winning team under a 25 year concession agreement, freeing the government of the immediate burden to find the funds for this major infrastructure project thought to cost anywhere between 300 and 700 million US Dollars. Construction start is hoped for early 2013 after the process to select the winning bid has been completed in 2012 and the new airport is then due to begin operations in 2015 or 2016, in time for the expected delivery of the ordered B787 Dreamliners for RwandAir. Initially it will have one runway and parallel taxiway but a second runway is to be provided for in the planning for additional phases of add on construction and expansion as traffic growth demands. Presently, and besides the national airline, are Kenya Airways, Air Uganda, Ethiopian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and KLM coming on scheduled flights to Kigali, soon to be joined by South African Airways and then in April 2012 by Turkish Airlines. Qatar Airways too has expressed their desire to add Kigali to their growing list of destinations in Africa.
The present Kanombe International Airport, while well maintained and compact, is straining at the seams when both Brussels Airlines and KLM come within half an hour of each other to Kigali and neither the check in areas nor the departure lounges are then offering sufficient space, with passengers often queuing to the parking area outside the terminal building in front of the security check point.
Said a regular aviation source from Kigali when discussing the new airport over the weekend: the sooner the new airport comes on line the better. When several flights come and go at once, Kanombe is too small and the experience of our visitors starts with the first impression when they arrive and ends with the last impression when they leave. If both are not good, anything in between is likely also suffering from it. We must do better in this arena and more so as Nairobi is upgrading JKIA and Entebbe also is implementing their long term masterplan with major improvements