East Timor government to propose expansion of Dili airport

12 July 2011

Dili, East Timor, 12 July – The Strategic Development Plan (PED) that East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão is due to present Tuesday to the country’s development partners, gives up the idea of a new airport in Dili and proposes to expand the current airport.

The PED outlines an extension of the runway at Nicolau Lobato Airport and construction of a new terminal to adapt it to managing up to 1 million passengers per year by 2020.

Despite the extension of the runway, from 1,850 metres to 2,500 metres, Nicolau Lobato Airport will not be prepared to receive long haul aircraft, which would require a 3,000-metre runway, and the decision is based on the idea that it will not be commercially viable within the next 20 years to operate in East Timor with large aircraft.

Baucau Airport, which has a 2,500-metre runway and is currently not in use, will remain as an alternative to Dili airport, despite being earmarked to become a military airbase, after it is provided with a civilian terminal and control tower.

The ports of Tibar and Suai will be built from scratch, one on the north coast and the other on the south coast, but each with a different function.

The port of Tibar is designed to replace the overcrowded port of Dili, which will be converted into a recreational marina and is not expected to have cargo handling capabilities in the next four years, as it has just 300 metres of dock.

According to the project, which has already been launched, it will eb a multi-purpose port that is able to handle 1 million tons of commercial cargo and will be built in stages, according to demand and availability of funding.

The construction project involves building a breakwater, building a dock and facilities on land, dredging and construction of access roads, including a road to Dili.

The port of Suai, which is expected to be operating by 2015, is intended to be a gateway for materials and equipment for developing the oil and gas industry on the south coast and will include a container park, logistical facilities, fuel storage and potentially, a naval shipyard. (macauhub)