GIS - 17 May, 2019: The development of air transport is one of the priority issues for government, hence, major investment will be made in air transport infrastructure and aviation routes development so as to enhance business and tourism promotion through a better synergy and cooperation.
The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, was speaking yesterday at the inauguration ceremony of the newly renovated Boarding Lounge, to the tune of Rs 235 million, at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (SSRIA) in Plaisance.
In his address, the Prime Minister highlighted that Mauritius is presently linked with 10 out of the 15 major hubs worldwide and, since 2015, 21 more destinations have been added by Air Mauritius to its routes with 15 new airlines operating scheduled and chartered flights to the country. The airport, he added, is developing fast and has recorded an overall increase of 41% in the number of scheduled flights with the volume of cargo rising by 25%.
Speaking about the newly renovated Boarding Lounge, Prime Minister Jugnauth said that it will alleviate the peak hour passenger pressure in the existing Boarding Lounge and will offer to airlines and passengers a new architectural design. He further added that the improved services that the renovated boarding lounge offers will increase the operational efficiency of the airport and help passengers' experience take off through a customer-centric approach.
The Prime Minister recalled that air traffic forecasters were predicting that the four million passenger threshold would be reached only by the year 2022 but for the past four years, the airport has recorded a substantial passenger traffic growth of more than 33%, representing 1 million passengers more as compared to end of 2014. He highlighted that this state-of-the-art facility was necessary to meet future demands as there is high probability of crossing the four-million threshold this year itself, well in advance of the expected date.
Referring to the optimised operational performance of the airport, Prime Minister Jugnauth underlined that SSRIA now has the capacity to face passenger growth till 2023 while adding that the future holds great promises for the airport. He stated that work will begin on a new Terminal building shortly and that Government has developed an ambitious Master plan that will bring exciting long-term development opportunities for the airport.
He also spoke on further developments related to the airport namely: a new 66 m high Air Traffic Control Tower presently under construction which will further upgrade the level of safety for airside operations and facilitate future developments and; an Airport Rescue and Firefighting Training Simulator, which has required an investment of Rs 45 million so as to allow the airport firefighters to enhance their skills and enable emergency personnel from airports of the region to come over for advance training.
Government, Mr Jugnauth pointed out, has played an active role by signing more than 25 Air Service Agreements, hence unlocking additional opportunities for air accessibility on several fronts, be it from Asia, Europe or Africa. In a few weeks, Mauritius will be hosting the World Travel Awards 2019, a prestigious world event which will bring together prominent players and industry leaders in the world of tourism, aviation and hospitality. This will be an occasion, once more, for Mauritius to show its expertise and level of excellence in those sectors, he said.
Projects by AML
For his part, the Officer in Charge of Airports of Mauritius Ltd (AML), Mr Siven Chellen, stated that the extension of the existing passenger terminal infrastructure is a key asset for the airport while adding that this renovation project is a judicious investment as it raises the total handling capacity of passengers from 4 million to 4.5 million annually while making optimum use of existing infrastructure. He recalled that renovation works started in May 2018 and were fully completed on 16 April 2019 with test flights successfully carried out.
According to him, the additional lounge, of an area of 3 000 m2, provides a simultaneous seating capacity of more than 550 and four new boarding gates, one of which is equipped of an innovative e-boarding capacity. This boarding lounge aims to serve as a new haven for passengers, dedicated to their comfort and convenience, he added.
He listed the various projects that have been implemented throughout the years. These comprise numerous green initiatives, namely the extensive use of energy saving lighting, more efficient air conditioning systems, better waste management, promotion of recycling, and treatment of wastewater for irrigation of green spaces of the airport.
He further added that other projects are underway and announced that AML is working on a plan to develop a solar farm at the SSRIA with the objective to produce energy from renewable sources. As an initiative to contribute to the eco system, he said, AML is promoting composting among some 800 Mauritian families through the free distribution of compost bins to the employees of Airport Terminal Operations Ltd.
Speaking about its deep-rooted societal engagement, Mr Chellen announced that for the 20th anniversary of AML this year, the AML is coming forward with a project towards upgrading and increasing the patient handling capacity of the Intensive Care Unit facilities at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital of Rose Belle in a bid to support the Government’s initiative to provide the best heath care system in Mauritius. He pointed out that an initial amount of Rs 2 million will be invested in the present financial year and added that the project will start within the coming weeks with the support of the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life.
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