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Work began in 2007 on the €645 million airport under former president Abdoulaye Wade, however unplanned problems and a change in construction companies resulted in repeated delays in the project and increased development costs.
However, despite the lengthy delay, it is hoped that the airport will become a west African regional hub. Currently the airport holds capacity for three million passengers per year. This is expected to rise to 10 million per year, ultimately making it one of the highest-capacity airports in Africa.
The opening of Blaise Diagne will also see it take over services from Senegal’s current flagship airport Léopold Sédar Senghor International in the capital city, Dakar, which will cease operations.
occupies a 4,500-hectare site compared with 800 hectares at Léopold Sédar Senghor. The new airport also boasts a larger terminal and runways that can accommodate more passengers and flights.
“The airport will be key in the promotion of ‘Destination Senegal’,” Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne said in a speech earlier this week, adding that airport services at the site would contribute to the development of the special economic zone nearby.