Airports are engines of economic development


The nexus of efficient international airports and economic development is a

logical and obvious outcome as the volume of air traffic is continuously increasing because more business people use air transport in their regular travels around the world as well as the growth of the tourist industry.
Therefore, any country which does not have international airports which cope with the volume of air traffic would suffer dire economic consequences.
Cyrus F. Freidheim and B. Thomas Hansson in their article: “Airports as Engines of Economic Development: Great Airports Are Critical for a Region” notes: If the claim that “all roads lead to Rome” was the key indicator of that city’s economic greatness in ancient times, a modern city’s equivalent claim would have to be “all airlines land here.”
Just as in the past shipping, railway and then highway systems have played vital roles in determining a city’s economic power, global air transportation systems will do so in the future for cities, regions and countries. Rome’s Caesar had it relatively easy. When a new road was needed, he commanded it to be built. Modern leaders do not have that luxury. To become an international hub, a city must first have sufficient demand for air travel, the right geographic location and a highly developed infrastructure to handle passengers and freight. Yet having all three in place does not guarantee success.
Last Friday Ghana.web reported: “Boom in Ghana’s aviation industry has left Ghana’s only international airport, Kotoka International Airport existing facilities stretched to breaking point. Analysts have predicted that in two to three years, Kotoka International airport would be fully packed, and due to its close proximity to the city centre, cannot be expanded.”
“The government of John Mahama is planning to build two of the biggest airports in West Africa at Kumasi and Tamale and expand the existing regional airports as feeder airports for Tamale and Kumasi International Airports. According to an analyst closer to the government, the new travel hub in Tamale will span 18 sq miles, making it one of the biggest airport in Africa and would host 5 runways, whilst Kumasi would stretch out to over 15 miles.
Tamale is planned to accommodate between 40 and 60 million passengers (including the hajj) annually. The new facility will not only serve the 3 Northern regions, but countries to the north, as Tamale morphs into a mega-city. According to the planners, Tamale’s suburbs would merge into towns around it, to overtake Kumasi as Ghana’s second largest city.”

“According to the Ghanaian government planners, the suggested location for Kumasi airport will be to the west of the current regional airport. The government justifies this ambitious airport building programme on the grounds that Ghana’s aviation market has the biggest potential for expansion in West Africa. The case for Tamale is even more compelling.”
Here in Guyana, the government in its wisdom and vision has recognised how vital is the need to have an international airport that could handle the level of traffic in an efficient manner. Consequently , it embarked on a project to expand and modernise our main international airport (CJIA).
Unfortunately, the political opposition has sought to block the project by voting against the allocations in the national budget earmarked for the project under all sorts of illogical and untenable submissions.
A leading opposition spokesman in the latest attempt to justify this budget cut offered that while he is not against a longer runway, he is against a new terminal building. This is illogical and incomprehensible thinking of the highest order because it is obvious that with a bigger runway bigger aircrafts will come here which means the volume of passengers will increase. Consequently, more accommodation will be needed to handle this increased volume of passengers in a timely and efficient manner. Therefore, how on earth could it have a bigger runway with the same current terminal building?
It is not surprising that Guyana’s economy collapsed and was in tatters under the stewardship of this individual.
But it would be unreasonable to believe that the opposition is unaware of the need for bigger and more modern airport. The real reason behind the blocking of the project is political vindictiveness and stalling of progress under this government.
So instead of putting Guyana first the opposition is putting it last and instead is putting its political agenda first.
It is time that good sense prevails and the opposition diverts from this destructive path because it is hurting Guyana.