The success story shared by Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) in the execution of its aerotropolis project is heartwarming, especially coming from a region where aviation is most under-exploited and under-developed. Mr. John Attafuah, Managing Director, GACL, here looks to the next phase of the aerotropolis project. He says African airports would take the world by storm over the next five to ten years.
Q: In your presentation you talked about the Ghana Airport City 1 and that is a really big transformation in that airport, I would like to know, what were the challenges you faced while trying to transform the airport into what it is?
A: The concept was not very obvious to people; people saw land and thought that they should not be tending to that. We had issues with getting the lease because our airport lands then had not been properly leased to us so we were having issues trying to acquire the lease for the land so that we could also sub-lease to developers.
Those were the challenges and then getting people to come and invest in an area that was so remote from the center of town was not that easy but then we through, did a lot of campaigns and eventually it caught on and now this is one of the most expensive pieces of land you could get in Accra.
Q: What are your projections about the Ghana Airport?
A: Going forward, we expect to develop airport city 2 with the total landscape of 290 acres and this is expected to begin this year. We are already in the market trying to procure the services of a development manager and once we get that company in place we expect to have all the things we have before – tanks farms, hotels, etc. And we expect that it will improve our aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenue base; from the current 13% we are aiming to do about 40% in the next five years.
We also intend to do the same in some of our regional airports, have airport cities where we will have such real estate development and we hope that it will continue to attract as much interest as Kotoka International Airport has done.
We expect to have car parks, industrial areas, conference and exhibition centres, an aviation fuel farm, research and economic centres and also some residential area in there.
Q: Are there other recommendations you would like to give other African airports that are trying to have this business transformation in their airports?
A: The whole point of it is trying to ensure that they have alternate sources of income so that the airport would stay relevant. Remember we do not control the traffic of passengers that fly to our airports, it is other countries that decide whether their planes should fly to our airports or not.
And therefore we should ensure to continue to give them the best services so that they will continue to fly here; and also have an eye on other sources of income, cut down our cost so that we can sustain the business as we move forward.
Q: Going forward, five ten years where do you see African airports?
A: We are going to take the world by storm.