Welcome to the World's Two Newest Commercial Airports
The opening of a new commercial airport isn't something you see every day. In fact, it's not something you see every year, even. The enormous investments required are daunting, cost overruns are pretty much a given, the construction can be an endless nightmare and the politics involved — who wants an enormous noise machine in their back yard? — are nearly always a mess. So it was a rare occurrence indeed when two of them opened this week, when passenger operations began at Blaise Diagne International Airport (DSS) in Dakar, Senegal and at the Platov International Airport (ROV) in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.
For Dakar, the new flagship airport, which has been under construction for 10 years, is expected to bring the country to the forefront of the West African economies. The airport cost $575 million and is located about 90 minutes from Dakar's city center. DSS isn't only expected to be a major improvement for Senegal, but it will be an improved passenger experience for those traveling to, from or through West Africa. In total, it's expected to handle three million passengers per year before eventually rising to 10 million per year.
When TPG's Nick Ellis visited Dakar's old airport, he called his experience a "disaster." The new Blaise Diagne Airport will look to be a major upgrade for the city. Delta's nonstop route between New York (JFK) and Dakar will now fly into DSS. Delta flies a 757-200 aircraft on the route.
Rostov-on-Don Platov International Airport (ROV) also began commercial operations on Thursday. The new airport replaces the existing one, which was constrained by its close proximity to the city. The new airport is about triple the size of its predecessor, with more modern design and functionality, including being designed to handle up to five million passengers per year with a capacity of 1,790 passengers per hour. As for what the airport is equipped to handle, it can host aircraft up to a Boeing 777-300ER.
As for the biggest one among airports in construction, the Berlin Brandenburg Airport, things do not look bright. The new aviation hub for the capital of Europe's biggest economy was supposed to open in 2012, but design faults among other problems have kept it closed so far, with no official opening in sight.