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14 Nov, 2023 11:17

Angola launches major Chinese-built international aviation hub

The move comes as the African nation introduces visa-free travel for tourists from over 90 countries, including Russia
Angola launches major Chinese-built international aviation hub

Angola opened its new Dr. Antonio Agostinho Neto International Airport (AIAAN) on Friday and announced that it would begin cargo transportation through the facility.

The airport was constructed by the China National Aero-technology International Engineering Corporation and is reportedly the largest ever built outside of China by a Chinese contractor. The project was fully funded by the Angolan government, according to the southern African nation’s transport minister, Ricardo Viegas D’Abreu.

AIAAN, named after Angola’s first president, Antonio Agostinho Neto, is located in Bom Jesus, 40km southeast of the capital Luanda, and is estimated to have cost more than $3 billion. It has a total area of 1,324 hectares, and an annual capacity of 15 million passengers and 130,000 tons of cargo. The complex includes hotels, office buildings, hangars, and shops.

We have just inaugurated and put into service this important infrastructure for the nation and the continent, which will not only serve Angola but also serve as a crucial hub for airport transportation in Africa and the world,” Xinhua news agency quoted Angolan President Joao Lourenco as saying at the opening ceremony.

Angola recently passed legislation granting 90-day visa-free stays to nationals of at least 98 countries for tourism purposes. Russia, the US, Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, and China are among the countries from which tourism is seen as a priority.

D’Abreu said the government intends to use the new airport to establish an international civil aviation hub in Luanda to connect Africa to other continents.

It truly contributes to the development of our region’s economies in a logic of ever greater integration and creation of added value for all,” he told the aviation news outlet Simple Flying.

The construction of AIAAN began in 2008. It received its first certification in September after passing landing and take-off tests conducted by Angolan Airlines TAAG in June 2022.

Domestic flights are scheduled to begin in February of next year, while international operations will start in June, the China Daily newspaper reported, citing the airport’s operating plan.