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Rs 8.4 Billion Plan is Taking Off for Rodrigues Airport Revamp



Rs 8.4 Billion Plan is Taking Off for Rodrigues Airport Revamp

The government is on the verge of signing an agreement with the World Bank for a USD 184 million loan, equivalent to approximately Rs 8.4 billion, to finance the construction of a new runway at Plaine-Corail Airport in Rodrigues.

This will be in addition to the €16 million grant provided by the European Union last year, valued at approximately Rs 800 million.

According to the budget for 2024/25, the project has been allocated Rs 7.8 billion, with Rs 1.4 billion set aside for the 2024/25 financial year, Rs 1.8 billion for 2025/26, and Rs 1.9 billion for 2026/27, with the remainder to be disbursed over the next three years.

The current runway of 1,286 meters is only suitable for small aircraft like the ATR72-500 used by Air Mauritius, which has a maximum capacity of 72 passengers.

The new runway, measuring 2,100 meters long and 45 meters wide, will be able to accommodate larger aircraft such as Airbus A320neo/A321 or B737, offering between 180 and 220 seats depending on configuration.

This upgrade is expected to boost tourism and attract more airlines to the island.

Currently, apart from Air Mauritius, which operates several daily flights, Air Austral also serves Plaine-Corail once a week.

Tourist arrivals on the island of Rodrigues have been steadily increasing over the past two decades, reaching a peak of around 78,000 visitors (national and international) in 2019.

The majority of tourists (around 70%) are from Mauritius, followed by La Réunion (14%), France (11%), and other countries including Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

The busiest period for air traffic is from October to May, with December being the most congested month.

Following the reopening of borders in March 2022 after the COVID-19 pandemic, Rodrigues experienced a significant surge in travel demand.

The revised tourism plan for 2030 aims to welcome 120,000 passengers. The airport will need to accommodate larger jet aircraft to reduce travel time, increase freight capacity, and attract more direct flights.

This expansion will have a positive impact on the island’s economy and society. By 2025, around 100,000 visitors are expected to arrive on the island, rising to 120,000 by 2030.

Revenues are projected to reach around $26 million (Rs 1.2 billion) by 2030, creating around 2,600 to 3,000 direct jobs.

The runway expansion project has been planned for nearly a decade and has been delayed several times.

According to the budget for 2015/16, the project was expected to cost Rs 2.2 billion. However, the latest budget has revised the cost to Rs 7.7 billion.

As a result, the government will need to inject an additional Rs 5.5 billion via Airports of Mauritius Ltd.

The project also includes the construction of a new control tower, meteorological station building at Plaine-Corail Airport.

Additionally, a quarantine center and new fire station will be built on site. Furthermore, a large cold storage facility will be constructed for storing perishable products.

According to a World Bank study by Deloitte in 2019, the new runway will also have significant economic benefits for Rodrigues.

It is expected to stimulate agriculture and livestock sectors, creating around 600 direct jobs and developing the fishing industry.

Source: Defi Media

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