Arusha airport undergoes Sh6.3 billion expansion

What you need to know:

  • The airport is popular for charter flights for tourists; it will soon swing back to full operational capacity after a massive Sh6.3 billion expansion

Arusha. The Arusha airport, popular for charter flights for tourists, will soon swing back to full operations after a massive Sh6.3 billion expansion.

The facility, located on the outskirts of Arusha City, is one of the oldest in the country. It has been undergoing an extension of its runway to accommodate larger aircraft.

The expansion included construction and rehabilitation of the main apron, which was completed at a cost of Sh1.9 billion.

Also completed is the upgrade of the remote apron and parallel taxiway to asphalt level, where Sh968 million was spent for civil works.

Another Sh640 million was spent to upgrade the parking yard by re-carpeting it with another layer of bitumen.

A report provided to The Citizen by the Arusha Regional Commissioner’s office mentions other civil works at the facility, including the construction of a terminal building at a cost of Sh2.8 billion, which is now 70 percent complete.

“The upgrading of the airport will boost tourism,” noted the report, which was recently presented before stakeholders. Expansion of the key airport for the tourism sector has been underway since 2020/21 and is expected to be completed next financial year.

Arusha airport, located along the Dodoma road, is among the 59 airports managed, maintained, and operated by the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA).

The Group II category facility operates as a ‘domestic only’ airport for scheduled flights and is the terminus of charter flights for tourists and business executives.

It was built in 1956 by Colonel Grey, a settler farmer who cultivated coffee and sorghum in the Burka and Mateves areas west of the city.

After independence in 1961, the airport was officially handed over to the government. At one time, the government put the airport under the management of East African Airways. After the breakup of the former East African Community (EAC) in 1977, it was taken over by the Ministry of Agriculture as a centre for crop aerial spraying operations.

The inception of TAA in 1999 mandated the agency to operate and run all government airports and airstrips within Mainland Tanzania.

During his recent visit there, the deputy minister for Works and Transport, Atupele Mwakibete, said plans were under way to make the facility operate 24 hours.

This has to be preceded by the installation of floodlights along the runway. Currently, the airport operates for only 12 hours during the day.

According to the deputy minister, the current expansion will see an extension of the length of the runway to 1,860 metres