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Tamale airport will be West Africa’s aircraft maintenance facility; president Mahama



President John Dramani Mahama has given the strongest assurance yet that his government will turn the Tamale Airport, which is currently being upgraded to bring it up to international standards, into a regional maintenance aircraft facility for West Africa.

The president’s statement followed his visit to the airport on Friday where he saw off the the first 498 batch of pilgrims to Mecca who left aboard a Boeing B747-400Seriers, a Saudi Arabia government-owned Nas Airline. The first phase of the airport was completed at a cost of 130 million United States dollars.

The second phase of the upgrading, the president said, will include a hajj terminal with accommodation and a cafeteria for would-be pilgrims. It will also include modern departure and arrival halls as well as a cargo handling facility for fresh fruits and vegetables, and other agriculture produce that can be exported directly  to Europe.

The first airlift of pilgrims which took off at about 3:37 p.m. local time was successful, pushing officials to increase the initial arrangement to airlift 1500 pilgrims.

In all, the Lion aircraft has transported 1500 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and is expected to transport the last batch on Monday August 22. Monday was added after demands increased necessitating the president to order a fourth flight.

President Mahama said his government intention to upgrade the airport to international standards was a well-thought through vision aimed at expanding opportunities to the north for accelerated growth and development of the people.

Beyond the airlifting pilgrims, the president the airport would also support Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), programs to enhance the export of perishable goods, especially fresh agriculture products.

The airport runway, the president said, has been extended by more than 1400 meters, from 2480 meters to 3940 meters, which he noted, was one of the longest runways in the country. An additional airport apron he added, was also included to provide parking space for wide body jets.

The airport the president stated, can now serve as an alternative landing for aircraft which for any reason cannot land.

In the past, aircrafts with difficulty landing at Kotoka International airport in Accra used to resort to neighbouring Africa countries. So, for the first time, Tamale has become an international airport to Accra, the president stated.

The president described the upgrading of Tamale airport to an international one as a fulfillment of the late President John Evans Atta Mills wishes.

In 2008, it was professor Mills made the promise that should he be elected president of Ghana, he will convert the airport into an international one, Mr Mahama recounted.

The aviation industry in Ghana the president Mahama said has made tremendous growth and remains very a significant element in the attainment of government ‘s transformational agenda.

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