There's no place like Lomé…
Lomé aspires to become regional hub with a new state-of-the-art passenger terminal, as Kaleyesus Bekele discovers.
The Togolese Government has built a new $150 million passenger terminal at Gnassingbé Eyadéma International Airport (AIGE) in Lomé.
It is hoped it will become a regional hub for west and central Africa.
Togo President, Faure Gnassingbé, inaugurated the terminal, which was funded by the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China, on April 25 this year.
Latta Dokisime Gnama, director general of Togo’s Civil Aviation Authority, said the terminal could accommodate up to three million passengers per year. “This is one of the most modern passenger terminals in Africa,” he added.
The China Airport Construction Group (CACG) and fellow Chinese company, Wietec, carried out the design and construction
Work on the project began in 2012 and was completed in July 2015. “Since then we were testing and commissioning the facilities,” Gnama explained.
The old terminal was able to accommodate 800,000 passengers per year. Its annual freight-handling capacity has been increased from 15,000tonnes to 35,000tonnes.
The new terminal is equipped with sophisticated security surveillance systems plus modern luggage and body-scanning machines. It has 12 check-in counters, six immigration counters and a number of security checkpoints. “We have the safest and most secure airport in the region,” said Gnama.
The new terminal houses modern restaurants and cafes, lounges, VIP lounges and spacious duty-free shops, plus a free WiFi service.
According to Gnama, the new airport is part of the Togolese Government vision to make Lomé a regional air transport hub in west Africa. “We want to make it a big hub. The construction of this new terminal will boost air travel in the region, thereby facilitating trade and tourism. We want to promote trade and tourism.” Gnama believes that the new terminal enables the Togolese capital to attract more international carriers. Lomé is the home base of Asky Airlines, the pan-African airline launched by the private sector in west Africa in 2010. Twelve international airlines, including Ethiopian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Air France, Royal Air Maroc, Air Côte d’Ivoire and Air Burkina fly to Lomé, which is Ethiopian’s second hub. The airline flies to Sao Polo via Lomé and, as of July 2016, it will launch a service to New York through the airport. Gnama said the partnership between Asky and Ethiopian Airlines was an example of pan-African cooperation that was worth being emulated by other African nations. He added that, on completion of the new terminal, more airlines had shown an interest in adding Lomé to their route networks. According to him, Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, EgyptAir, Arik Air and ECAir have said they plan to launch flights to Lomé. A cargo airline from Nigeria also wants to operate to the airport.
The Togolese Civil Aviation Authority administers seven airports, two of which – Lomé and Niamtougou – are international. The authority plans to upgrade the other airports.
“In the near future we shall extend the runway of Niamtougou Airport and upgrade the other airports,” said Gnama, who also spoke of his country’s proud safety record. “We’ve not had an air accident since 1996,” he said. “We have stringent safety oversight regulations, which are compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations. Securing an air operators’ certificate (AOC) is not an easy task here.”
According to Gnama, the Togolese Government gives due attention to the development of air transport and tourism. The new airport, he said, was a gift to the Togolese people from President Gnassingbé.