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NACL focus travel

National Airports Corporation Limited (NACL) of Zambia’s strategy to upgrade, expand and improve the nation’s four most important airports continues at a pace. South Africa Magazine catches up with director of airports services Prince Chintimbwe who says airport capacity should not hinder Zambia’s “propensity to grow”.

By Ian Armitage

T

ourism is one of Zambia’s key economic drivers next to agriculture and mining and it is a sector undergoing serious growth, with an increasing number of people looking to experience the country’s stunning landscapes and wildlife. The government has recognised the significance of the sector and has pursued several programmes aimed at improving Zambia’s tourism industry and infrastructure. It has allocated extra funds to promoting Zambia as a tourist destination, but more importantly, has invested in the upgrade and expansion of the country’s most important airports. “We have a strategy to upgrade, expand and improve four important airports and create a gateway to the country that will leave a lasting impression,” says National Airports Corporation Limited (NACL) of Zambia’s director of airports services Prince Chintimbwe. NACL is the government owned parastatal which manages, maintains and develops the four designated international airports in Lusaka, Livingstone, Mfuwe and Ndola. “We are responsible for those four airports, yes,” Chintimbwe says. “Most visitors and workers arriving in Zambia enter the country via Lusaka, the country’s main airport. Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport (formerly Livingstone) is another very important airport and it services the tourist destination of Victoria Falls.” Mfuwe services the South Luangwa National Park and Ndola, which lies in the heart of the Copperbelt province, is the route www.southafricamag.com

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NACL focus travel

of access for the mining industry – an industry in full expansion mode. “Our mandate covers those airports,” Chintimbwe says. “The expansion in mining and tourism has been reflected in the passenger figures, which have been increasing. The growth has also been felt by the regional airports.” NACL was established in 1989 by an act of parliament with a mandate to provide air navigation across the nation and airport services at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International, Mfuwe, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe and Kenneth Kaunda International airports. Over one million passengers passed through Zambia’s airports in 2011. Kenneth Kaunda International airport, which Chintimbwe describes as “the international gateway to Zambia”, handled 65 percent of all those passengers and is NACL’s flagship airport. “Why are we improving our airports?” he asked. “The airport is the first and last thing people see when they come to and leave the country. We want the experience to be lasting. “Lusaka is clearly the main gateway with three other airports that have very specific roles within the airport system. Certain facilities were in much greater need of development than 4

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others so our investments and plans are based on that and are phased.” NACL has created a master plan for the development of Kenneth Kaunda International, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International, Mfuwe and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe up to 2029. “It is an ambitious plan we have and we have done and will be doing a whole host of things,” Chintimbwe says. “Work at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International is well underway and we are hoping to have phase I finished very soon.” Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International airport received 10 million euros from the European Union in 2007, which was

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spent rehabilitating and extending the apron and runway to three kilometres. “We have a phased approach,” Chintimbwe says. “Phase I began in August 2010 and includes the construction and equipping of the concourse area and departure lounge. This will go straight into operation when it’s complete later this year. Phase II will start from that point and will conclude with the construction of the arrivals part of the international terminal. “This whole project to improve that airport is expected to cost around $95 million, according to the master plan by Leigh Fischer.” Kenneth Kaunda International airport will undergo the most extensive expansion that will be phased over the next few years. A new terminal building designed for international arrivals and departures will replace the current facility, as well as the construction of

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auxiliary infrastructures such as aprons and taxiways. A new control tower will also be developed on the west side of the new terminal building. “Lusaka, of course, is the nation’s international gateway and the plans here are on a much larger scale,” Chintimbwe confirms. “Designs are already completed for the construction of a new terminal capable of handling over two million passengers a year. It is estimated to cost around $196 million.” Lusaka airport was built in 1967 and has only seen minor upgrades over the decades. The new terminal will be located adjacent to the current facility. “Like I said, we developed a plan which is constructed in phases and the focus currently is on Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International.” The upgrades and improvements to all of the airports are absolutely vital, Chintimbwe adds. “The current

We have a strategy to upgrade, expand and improve four important airports and create a gateway to the country that will leave a lasting impression


NACL focus travel

infrastructure predates independence. We’re working to change this as quickly as possible - capacity and the facilities and infrastructure should not hinder our propensity to grow. We are trying to make the capacity available to meet demand. “Where we are already making improvements, the aesthetics are very important. From the aesthetic perspective, considerable thought has gone into designing the airports to represent the region in which they are located. All our airports will carry a theme.” Once the work is completed, it will equip Zambia to fully develop its blossoming tourist trade and to provide comfortable and attractive travel facilities for the many people arriving and departing with the mining industry. To learn more visit www.nacl.co.zm END

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NACL P.O Box 30175 Lusaka Zambia Tel: +260-211-271292 Fax: +260-211-271292 Email: prince.chintimbwe@lun.aero

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