National Airports Corporation Limited has embarked upon a bold upgrade and expansion of the country’s airport infrastructure as it sets out to bring its four locations into line with internationally acknowledged standards and practices.

The Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, Zambia, was a hive of activity on 7 November 2013 as more than 1,500 people gathered to witness the laying of the foundation stone marking the reconstruction and expansion of the airport, one of several major infrastructure projects managed by National Airports Corporation Limited (NACL).

The company is mandated to manage and maintain the four airports in Zambia, and has embarked on an ambitious infrastructure development project that will result in their expansion and upgrade.

The programme is part of the company’s five-year strategic plan, running from 2012 to 2017, to improve the airports and air navigational services to keep pace with internationally acknowledged standards and practices.

In an effort to achieve the objectives set out in the strategic plan, the company is focusing on four key issues:

  • improvement of income-generation streams
  • modernisation of infrastructure and equipment
  • company rebranding
  • enhancement of operational efficiency.

As the company sets out to implement these plans, the issue of quality remains key because NACL believes it is the quality of its infrastructure, equipment and services that will earn it the global recognition it seeks, help bring in new business, serve the local communities in which it operates, and enable it to continue to contribute to Zambia’s social and economic progress.

Aviation infrastructure boom

The first facility to be upgraded was the Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone, which now boasts a new state-of-the-art, 7,000m2 international passenger terminal building costing $50 million. The old terminal will be used for domestic and VIP purposes only and will be rehabilitated under phase three of the project.

Construction of the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport terminal building is next in line, with work scheduled to commence in 2014 at a cost of $385 million. The current airport, which was built in 1967, is the main gateway into Zambia and has the potential to become the hub for the continent, hence the financial injection aimed at developing a brand new terminal.

The airport will include a new 34,500m2, two-storey terminal building featuring:

  • 22 check-in counters, 12 border channels and six security-check counters
  • 4,000m2 presidential terminal for the country’s president, ministers and VIP guests
  • 2,000m2 air traffic control building and tower
  • 1,200m2 NACL office complex
  • airport hotel of 80 rooms (to be constructed in phases)
  • 22,200m2 car park
  • 5,000m2 cargo hangar
  • apron and taxiways.

The plan for the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola is to relocate it to a new greenfield site, to be constructed at a cost of $522 million. This airport is set to add to the changing face of Ndola city, which is home to the first ultra-modern sports stadium in the country and two major shopping malls.

There are also plans on the table to rehabilitate Mfuwe International Airport in Mfuwe, Eastern Province, because of its vast potential to develop eco-tourism.

"The significant strides being made towards transforming this parastatal into a profitable business venture through the ambitious infrastructure development currently taking place, is a development that we are proud of as an organisation," says NACL managing director, Robinson Misitala. "The infrastructure development and expansion programme that we have embarked on has been necessitated by the anticipated growth in passenger numbers by the year 2029."

Misitala adds that the projections were made by US firm Jacobs Consultancy, which has prepared airport master plans for the four international airports in Zambia.