Until 2019, the Angolan state-owned airline, TAAG was on the EU's Air Safety List due to safety concerns. Since Brussels lifted the ban, the African airline has resumed flights to Madrid, Lisbon, and Rome. Now, its management announced plans to put an increased focus on cargo activities “in our key market” South Africa. At the same time, the government is preparing for the inauguration of Luanda's new international airport.
As far as the latter aspect is concerned, the invitations for the official inauguration of the new airport have not yet been printed. This is because the final technical and operational
certifications for the start of air traffic are currently still pending. According to official information, this will need some more time but should be concluded – if all goes well – by fall. At
least the name has already been officially made public by Luanda’s government: António Agostinho Neto International Airport.
Built by a consortium of Chinese companies and the Brazilian construction firm, Odebrecht, the new air hub will feature three terminals and two runways with lengths of 4,200 m and 3,800 m respectively. It is designed to handle five million domestic passengers, 10 million international air travelers, and half a million tons of cargo (500,999t CAPA figure), annually.
Dual hub system
According to the original plans outlined in 2008, when construction work began, the airport should have been operational long ago. However, financing issues stopped work again and again, delaying the entire schedule. Finally, in JUN21 the government reached a US$4.1 billion funding agreement with the contractor consortium to ensure completion of the project. Once online, the new hub will complement air services rendered by Luanda’s existing Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport that will continue to operate. So far, the Angolan government has not yet announced how future traffic will be split between the two airports that build a dual hub system.
Focusing on cargo
Meanwhile, TAAG management indicated that the carrier’s cargo activities will be increased exponentially once the new airport goes live. “The cargo segment is nowadays strategic for TAAG with a rising contribution to the company’s sustainability. Thus, I see positive synergies and benefits for the business,” stated Eduardo Fairen, CEO of TAAG.
Sajid Khan, the airline's cargo director added: “South Africa is a key market within our cargo strategy and operational footprint. In 2022, we transported approximately 1,632,000 kg of miscellaneous goods/cargo from Johannesburg to different parts of the world, and the trend is to increase the volume of cargo and demand for our services.” The executive pointed out that South Africa exports a vast range of commodities. The country is also the focal departure and arrival point for cargo pick-up and drop-off from across the continent.
Mr. Khan emphasized that TAAG is a key distributor when it comes to connecting intra-African markets with destinations in Europe or Latin America. He illustrated his statement by mentioning Mozambique (Maputo), Sao Tome International Airport, Namibia (Windhoek), Nigeria (Lagos), South Africa (Johannesburg, Cape Town) as part of TAAG’s pan African cargo network serviced via Luanda. Long-haul, the carrier flies to Portugal (Lisbon), Spain (Madrid), Italy (Rome), Brazil (Sao Paulo), and Cuba (Havana).
Latest information from the Angolan government indicates that commercial operations at António Agostinho Neto International Airport will commence in DEC23.
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