Published on 27 May 2024

Ethiopia to build mega airport

The new US$8bn facility will handle 100m passengers annually

The newly-built domestic terminal at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Photo credit: Xinhua/Michael Tewelde

Ethiopia plans to build the largest airport in Africa. With an annual passenger handling capacity of 100m passengers per year the new airport will be able to handle 15 million more passengers per year than Singapore’s famed Changi International Airport. The new Ethiopian airport, to be constructed in two phases, will have four runways and enough parking spots for around 300 aircraft.

The new facility will be connected to the existing Addis Ababa Bole International Airport through a high-speed train. Once the project design is completed, the construction contract will be put out to tender. Building work is anticipated to start by 2025, with the first phase taking around five years to complete. The airport addition is part of a 15-year strategy to make Ethiopia a continental aviation hub.

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and fastest-growing airline fleet in Africa, inaugurated a US$50m Chinese-built domestic passenger terminal in Addis Ababa in May 2022 – less than a week after Centre Director Amit Jain made a brief transit at Bole International enroute to the Rwandan capital Kigali. The new domestic terminal, which connects Addis Ababa to more than 20 destinations across the country not only increases the airport’s capacity to handle more travellers but also enhance overall travel experience. Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa is currently the sixth busiest airport in Africa. In 2022 it is reported to have handled up to 6.7m passengers.  Ethiopian Airlines recently launched a US$55m e-commerce logistics hub at Bole International. Constructed by China’s Avic International, the facility processes items for Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and Shein. It is expected to handle 150,000 tonnes of cargo annually.

Ethiopian Airlines at Bole International Airport. Photo credit: Amit Jain

Ethiopian Airlines, with its hub in Addis Ababa, is the largest carrier in Africa in terms of passenger numbers. In 2022, it transported 11.3m people, followed by EgyptAir (8.2m), Safair (6.6m), Royal Air Maroc (5.7m), and Air Algerie (4.7m). Ethiopian is also the continent’s biggest freight airline, with 742,189 tonnes carried in 2022. The airline serves more than 150 domestic and international destinations across five continents.

In its latest industry update, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) said 2024 is the year of recovery for aviation. Air travel in Africa is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels for the first time in 2024. The number of seats offered in the region rose by 12.6%, from 14.3m in March 2019 to 16.1m in March 2024, driven by new routes and increased frequencies. Alongside traffic growth, African airlines are experiencing improved revenue performance. AFRAA estimated revenue for January 2024 at US$1.83bn, up from $1.56bn in November 2023, reflecting a 14.75% increase.


Top 10 busiest airports in Africa as continent’s travellers hit 178.6 million in 2022’, Nairametrics, 29 August 2023

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Ethiopian Airlines CEO speaks of expansion plans’, CGTN Africa, 02 April 2024

African airlines’ performance updates by AFRAA – March, 2024’, African Airlines Association, 02 April 2024

Ethiopian Airlines inaugurates Chinese-built terminal, doubling passenger capacity’, Xinhua, 19 May 2024

Ethiopian inaugurates first of its kind e-commerce logistics facility at Bole International Airport’, Ethiopian Airlines, 29 February 2024

Ethiopian Airlines launches e commerce logistics hub’, CGTN Africa, 02 March 2024



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