Gone are the days when airports were only viewed as mere transport facilities. Today, countries are paying close attention to their airports and are using them as symbols of prosperity.
Since they are the main points of entry for foreigners, airports need to be welcoming, accommodating and secure. In Africa, countries are investing billions of dollars in the rehabilitation of old airports and construction of new ones.
Here are the top 5 world-class airports in Africa.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, Mauritius
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is situated in Plaine Magnien, Mauritius, about 48 kilometers southeast of the capital Port Louis. It is the main international airport in the island nation, offering direct flights to several destinations in Africa, Europe, and Asia.
The airport is managed by Airports of Mauritius Co. Ltd (AML), with the government of Mauritius being the majority shareholder of AML. Formerly known as the Plaine Corail Airport, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport was built in the early 1940s by British colonialists to assist in the importation and exportation of goods to and from the United Kingdom.
Over the years, the airport has undergone major improvements, including the construction of a new passenger terminal in 2013. The new terminal, which takes the shape of the Traveller’s Palm”, has a capacity of 4 million passengers. The old terminals are also being upgraded. Sir Seewoosagul Ramgoolam is regarded as the most iconic airport in Africa.
Located in Marrakesh, Morocco, Marrakesh Menara Airport is an international facility, receiving flights from Europe, Casablanca and the Arab world. It has two passenger terminals contained in one enormous structure, which has a capacity of over 4 million people. A third terminal is under construction.
It is one of the six airports in Morocco where ONDA offers its special VIP service Salon Convives de Marque. Originally, it served as a stopover for flights on the way to Casablanca Airfield or Agadir Airport in North Africa.
During the Second World War, Menara was used by the United States Army Air Forces Air Transport Command as a hub for cargo, transiting aircraft and personnel. Its iconic exterior design makes it the most beautiful airport in North Africa.
Sharm El- Sheikh International Airport, Egypt
The Sharm El- Sheikh International Airport is an international air transport facility and the third-busiest airport in Egypt. It is located in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, and has two passenger terminals.
The first terminal, which was inaugurated in 2007, has a capacity of more than 5 million passengers, with 40 check-in counters. The terminal is designed to handle large international and chartered flights, while the second terminal is the original terminal building and has a capacity of 2.5 million people.
Last year, the Egyptian Airports Company agreed to expand the second terminal with the intention of increasing its capacity by an additional 2 million people a year. The facelift also includes the construction of a new runway and 40 new air sides.
Enfidha Hammamet International Airport, Tunisia
Located about 40 kilometers southwest of Hammament, Enfidha Hammamet International Airport mainly handles flights to and from Europe. It is synonymous with European travellers and tourists travelling to Tunisia for vacation.
It was constructed in 2009 with the total structure being estimated to have cost 436 million euros. Originally, the magnificent airport was named after the former Tunisian President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, but his name and pictures were removed in 2011 during the Arab Spring.
King Shaka International Airport, South Africa
The popular King Shaka International Airport is the main airport serving Durban, South Africa. It is located in La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal, about 35 kilometers north of Durban. The airport handled its first flight in May 2010, slightly over a month before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
King Shaka is a replacement of the former Durban International Airport (ICAO: FADN) and still uses the old IATA airport code. It is estimated to have cost $900 million. The airfield has one large passenger terminal located on the southern end of the airport.
The terminal, which has a capacity of more than 5 million passengers, is divided into two levels: Arrivals and departures. It has 34 aircraft parking bays and 16 jet bridges. On the northern end of the airport is the cargo terminal, which has a capacity of 150,000 metric tons.
These airports may not meet all the required international standards but they truly represent the African success story. They guarantee all travellers a well-organized, clean and pleasant travel experience.