Touching Bases: Mali could see bizav growth

 - June 9, 2008, 8:59 AM

A study conducted by Millennium Challenge, MWH Americas and HNTB Federal Services projects a 51-percent increase in passenger traffic to Mali’s Bamako Airport. The landlocked African country depends on air travel, according to Hugh Weaver, HNTB federal aviation practice leader, and its leaders recognize the importance of upgrading facilities not only for airlines but also for business aviation travelers. Weaver, who traveled to Mali for HNTB’s work on the study, said, “I was surprised at the number of people who fly internationally and domestically across Africa. While it’s a little different from the corporate aviation we see in the West, you see a lot of air travel through private aircraft operations.”

The airport’s 34-year-old infrastructure is in need of updating, and part of the study recommends extending the 7,200-foot runway by 1,400 feet, resurfacing the ramp, relocating the localizer and building a new terminal and partial parallel taxiway. There is no FBO at Bamako; general aviation visitors use a side entrance to the main terminal.

Weaver’s team worked closely with the airport’s leadership, and he said that they were well aware of the benefits of catering to general aviation. “We found them to be business savvy,” he said, “and they recognize that there is a direct impact to the economy by business aviation.” Funding is available for the next phase in the Mali program, and HNTB is hoping it will be selected to administer the airport projects.