After seven years of closure, the Sunyani Airport has been reopened to traffic, following the completion of its first phase of renovation.
This means that the airport can now host medium-sized aircrafts and therefore, commercial flights on the Accra-Sunyani route that has been reactivated.
It is expected to reduce the difficulties passengers travelling in and out of the middle belt of the country have to endure.
The Sunyani Airport was closed to traffic in 2015 due to poor state of infrastructure and other air safety concerns. The runway developed cracks and portholes; besides, it was too narrow for safe landing and take-off of aircraft. This informed the decision of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Ghana Airport Company (GACL) to close the airport to traffic as a precautionary measure.
This warranted renovation exercise of the airport which started in 2019. The first phase of the rehabilitation covered expansion of the runway from the length of 1,280 metres to 1,400 metres and the width to 45 metres.
A 90 by 60 metre apron has also been constructed, as well as facelift of the terminal building to befit a modern airport with all the basic facilities. A post and other civil works like drainage systems were also rehabilitated.
Speaking at a short ceremony to commission the renovated Sunayni Airport, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said the development is in line with the dream of making the country an aviation hub in sub-region, adding that processes will soon be completed for the phase two of the Sunyani Airport Rehabilitated Project.
Domestic air travels according to the President, is projected to surge in the coming years after recovering from the destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the aviation sector requires more infrastructural development, hence, the government’s commitment. The phase two of the Kumasi and Tamale Airports projects are 93 and 95 percent complete respectively, he added.
The President, however, decried ‘widespread encroachment’ on airport lands in the country, saying: “the phenomenon threatens future expansion and air safety; it has to be stopped”. He charged operators and regulators of airports, as well as Traditional Authorities and Lands Commission to sit up to ensure that airport lands are duly protected.
On his part, the Minister for Transport, Kweku Ofori Asiamah, said the commissioning of the Sunyani Airport is in tandem with the government’s vision of establishing airport in each of the regions to, among others, improve air connectivity, trade and tourism.
He stated that feasibility study is currently ongoing to develop a new airport in either the Central or Western Region, while government is also exploring opportunity to partner a strategic investor to establish a home-based carrier to provide domestic and international travels. He also announced that PassionAir, one of the domestic airlines, has shown interest to operate Accra-Sunyani route once the Sunyani Airport is opened to traffic.
The Sunyani Airport was originally constructed in July 1942 as an Airstrip for the British Allied Forces during the colonial era. It was subsequently upgraded into an airport in 1969 and inaugurated in 1974. The airport has, since, not seen any major renovation until it was shut down in 2015.