New Copperbelt Airport set to open mid 2020

Posted by: Yvette d'Unienville
Category: News
Copperbelt International Airport - image copyright Zambia Airports Company

Dubbed a new ‘airport city’ the Copperbelt International Airport is on track to open mid-2020. At a staggering cost of $397 million, on loan from the Export and Import Bank of China, it is hoped the new airport will revive the Copperbelt as a regional trade hub.

“I am sure that the new airport will significantly improve traffic connections of the Copperbelt both within Zambia and with Zambia’s neighboring countries, thus promote more trade exchanges, attract more foreign investment, and increase flow of goods and personnel,” Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming said in remarks delivered during the launch of construction works.

The ‘Copperbelt International Airport’ will replace the current Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe Airport (formerly Ndola International Airport). Anyone who’s flown into SMK Int. understands the need for an upgrade. Built in 1938 as a British military base, SMK was converted to a civilian aerodrome in 1958. Although several terminal upgrades have taken place over the past few decades, the ailing infrastructure and lack of baggage handling facilities is a source of frustration for both staff and airline passengers.

Statistics published by ZACL (Zambia Airport Corporation Ltd) estimate an increase from 50,000 passengers per annum in 2004 to 250,000 in 2016. This 500% increase over the past decade has stretched SMK Airport to its limit and beyond. In contrast, the new airport, with a 12,000 sqm terminal building, will be capable of handling one million passengers a year.

Copperbelt International Airport in progress. Image copyright Zambia Airports Corporation
Copperbelt International Airport in progress, 4 Oct 2019. Image source: ZACL Twitter @ZambiaAirports

“Government looked at the future because the country is diversifying and that is the reason why the airport was designed in such a way that it could attract trade, both export and import from the Copperbelt. We hope the private sector could take advantage of the government’s foresight to tap in the International Airport on the Copperbelt, ” the project’s chief engineer Mr Mushota added.

The airport is located 13 kilometres outside of Ndola, near the site of the Dag Hammarskjold Memorial Site. This is the location where the plane, carrying the UN Secretary General on a peace keeping mission to the DR Congo, crashed in 1961. Once completed, the new airport facilities will include: three aerodromes

– a 3.5 km runway

– a cargo terminal (capable of handling 8,000 tonnes of cargo annually)

– a business complex

– restaurants

– and a 50-room hotel

Additionally, the airport will house a fuel farm to prevent shortages, a water and power reticulation system, and a level 10 fire and rescue centre.

Located on the outskirts of Luanshya, only 20 kilometres from the new Copperbelt International Airport, Lowden Lodge is conveniently located for business and leisure visitors to the Copperbelt. Once opened, we will offer a shuttle service to and from the new airport.

Copperbelt International Airport in progress, 10 Oct 2019. Image source: ZACL Twitter @ZambiaAirports
Yvette d'Unienville
Yvette d'Unienville is the Social Media Manager for Lowden Lodge. A #ProudlyZambian Graphic & Web Designer, Copywriter and Social Media Manager she believes in making the best of any situation.