Senegal’s government has announced that it has begun the shift from the Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport to the new Blaise Diagne International Airport located about 70 km from Dakar.
By TAMBA JEAN-MATTHEW in Dakar | Friday, March 7 2014 at 13:14
Tourism and air transport minister Oumar Guèye said the relocation was taking place ahead of a December 2014 deadline for completion of the new airport.
“The time is now, just 10 months before the flights begin to land and take off, and so now is the time relocating completely and making other pertinent arrangements,” the minister said on the national broadcaster Wednesday.
He said work on the 4,000 hectare Saudi-funded project which began nearly three years ago had continued swiftly in spite of a change in regime.
Days before the March 2012 presidential poll, ex-President Abdoulaye Wade made a test landing at the un-tarred run off and joked: “Let me be the first to taste the broth”.
Minister Guèye said a relocation committee would also recommend what to do with the current airport which was built by France to provide support for its troops during the world wars close to 100 years ago.
The committee will also advise the government on employment and other labour issues as well as plans for boosting tourism and improving civil aviation.
The new multi-million dollar Blaise Diagne International Airport, which the minister described as “one of the best in the region,” is due to be officially opened by June 2015.
Mr Guèye said the new airport was designed to contain heavy air traffic, a shortcoming that had not allowed the old airport to earn more income for the country.
It is being named after Senegalese-born Blaise Diagne, the first black African to be elected in the French parliament during the colonial era.