Entebbe International Airport authorities say their eyes are set on transforming Uganda’s only airport into a hub for the region.
While taking the media on a guided tour at the airport, Eng. John Kagoro Barongo, the Director Airports and Aviation Security at Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said transforming the airport doesn’t only mean increasing the volume of traffic and passengers, but the airport must be attractive to neighboring countries as well.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says it’s strengthening and increasing the length of the runway at Entebbe International Airport to aid easy landing of Airbus A380-800, the world’s biggest commercial aircraft in a move aimed at transforming Entebbe Airport to regional status.
Currently, Entebbe Airport handles less than two dozen flights a day compared to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi which handles nearly 100 flights a day.
Some of the airlines that operate in Entebbe are KLM, SN Brussels, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airlines, Egypt Air, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Rwandair, South African Airways, Fast Jet, Fly Sax, Precision Air and a few South Sudan airlines.
Eng. John Kagoro Tusubira, the Director Airports and Aviation Security, says the existing runway was built in 1996.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the major runway at Entebbe Airport is 3,782 feet or 1.15 mile, yet the ideal length of the runway for the Airbus 380-800 is twice more.
Eng. Tusubira said the runway will be rebuilt in two phases, with the second one in fewer than five years, to enable it have the strength and features that can ably land the biggest passenger aircraft in the world.
Rwandair’s Airbus A380, which was acquired last year, made its very first landing on African soil at Entebbe Airport before heading for Kigali. The biggest aircraft that lands at the airport is Airbus A340 run by Dubai-based Emirates airlines.
According to Eng. Tusubira, the current runway can still land an Airbus A380, but, as he put it, “the plane would not be too happy.” The A380, in addition to other requirements, needs enough space for its wingspan, a larger apron and perhaps also own gate to accommodate the large number of passengers simultaneously board the upper and lower decks.
Eng. Tusubira also revealed that the old airport runway will be upgraded first to ease traffic when the main runway is being upgraded.
In addition, said Eng. Tusubira, the aprons at both the new and old runways will be increased and strengthened.
For the world’s biggest aircraft to land safely and comfortably at Entebbe airport the runway length, especially, will have to be elongated. Presently, the CAA is battling some neighboring villagers over a piece of land that would be vital in extension of the runway.