Mauritius airport switches to new terminal
September 12 marked the start of full-fledged operations at the new Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport terminal. The transfer of airport operations took place at the midnight march from Wednesday 11 to Thursday 12 September. The delicate five-hour mission involved the relocation of governmental agencies and other airport services to the new terminal.
A soft opening of the new terminal was undertaken in mid-August with Air Mauritius ATR 72 flying to Rodrigues Island. It was followed by a formal inaguration of the new terminal by Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, on 30 August 2013. Ramgoolam described the new airport terminal as an architectural gem which will propel Mauritius to the international scene and boost both commercial exchanges and the tourism industry.
The modern state-of-the-art passenger terminal covers a total surface area of 57,000 m2 and has the capacity to handle 4.5 million passengers annually, against 2.7 million presently. The project has taken three years to complete with investment amounting to $305 million (Rs 11 billion) by the Government of Mauritius with the financial support of the China Exim Bank.
The new terminal comprises, amongst others, 52 check-in counters, five boarding gates, 36 immigration counters and 12 health check points, a new aircraft parking area and a landside car park located in front of the building. The new parking area can handle at least a thousand vehicles, covering passengers, taxis and other tour operators alike. There is also a dedicated area for accompanying family members and friends.
Airports of Mauritius Limited (AML) and Aéroports de Paris Management (ADPM) partnered in a joint venture for this project which will be managed by Airport Terminal Operations Limited (ATOL) – a subsidiary of AML. ATOL’s responsibilities comprise the development, design, construction and operation of the new passenger terminal.
At 6 am the first plane, Air Mauritius flight Mk 045, landed at the new terminal bridge to disembark some 275 passengers from Paris. During the evening, airlines and other airport service providers settled and took possession of their workstations with which they have familiarised themselves in recent months.
The first international departure flight MK 843 to Cape Town, took off at the announced time of 8.45 am with 92 passengers on board. On the evening of September 12, more than 1,000 departing passengers crossed each other during rush hour.
The new terminal is connected to the existing one which will be closed for refurbishment. Serge Petit, CEO of AML, said that the renovation will be done in phases. Upon completion of renovation, the old terminal will be integrated with the new Passenger Terminal. The airport will then have eight passenger boarding bridges in all. Specific zones within the airport have been identified for cargo and Freeport activities as well as for the development of other commercial opportunities such as an integrated airport city.
The airport infrastructure is in line with the Mauritius Sustainable Island (Maurice Ile Durable) concept and the building will maximize the use of natural light. Apart from the installation of monocrystalline solar modules, rain water will be collected for the patios and sanitary blocks.
The airport runway has also been upgraded at a cost of Rs1 billion. The airstrip has been enlarged on both sides and the pavement surface reinforced.
Large aircraft like Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 can now land in Mauritius.
With the new terminal set to give flights the green signal and the old terminal geared for renovation, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport stands ready to embark on a new phase of its development.
Emirates Airlines (EK) has already signified its intention to position an Airbus A380 as from December 2013 to offer additional seats to Mauritius from Dubai. It is also rumoured in the local press that Air France is seriously considering flying an A380 to the airport at Plaisance by the first quarter of 2014.
Image: The new terminal of the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport at Mauritius, Source : www.mauritius-holidays-discovery.com