In Control: Coming attractions at an airport near you?

Djibouti airport design
Artist’s rendering of the Hassan Gouled Aptidon International Airport planned for Djibouti.

Some of these projects may become game-changers. Others may never see the light of day.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport (Berlin, Germany) – Now in its fifth year of delays since its original 2010 completion target, this US$6 billion project (pic­tured above) has been mired in construction problems and mismanagement since it began in 2007. Eventually it is supposed to replace Berlin Shonefeld and Berlin Tegel airports, with a planned cargo capacity of 600,000 tonnes per year. Currently, however, the expected launch date is 2018 or 2019. Until then the airport authority gives bus tours of the “phantom airport.”

Ciudad Real Central Airport (La Mancha, Spain) – Currently considered a “ghost airport” in Central Spain, this once-failed €1 billion project that closed in 2010 has a new owner: Tzaneen International, a Chinese-led consortium that has big plans to turn the empty structure into a beachhead in Europe for a global e-commerce network. According to Chinese media reports, the Ciudad Real will become a major storage and distribution hub for B2C and C2C express shipments ordered through China’s Alibaba Group.

Hassan Gouled Aptidon & Ahmed Dini Ahmed airports (Djibouti City, Djibouti) — The tiny African nation of Djibouti plans to have two brand-new airport hubs large enough to handle 100,000 tonnes of cargo to vie for a piece of the lucrative long-haul international air traffic in East Africa and the Middle East. Hassan Gouled Aptidon International (artist’s concept pictured) is expected to open in 2018, while Ahmed Dini Ahmed International is expected to open next year. Both are said to have funding from the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp.

Greenfield site near Wuhan (Hubei Province, China) – China has report­edly built about 15 new airports across the country and expanded dozens more in just the last two years, but a new project said to be under way near Wuhan may be the most interesting. SF Express, which models itself after the major American integrators and owns a fleet of 22 freighters, appears to be interested in building its own airport. Wuhan is centrally located to easily reach most large coastal metropolises as well as the growing cities in China’s western provinces. Could we be seeing a new Memphis in the making?

Hanthawaddy Airport (Bago, Myanmar) – First proposed more than 20 years ago, this snake-bitten, US$1.5 billion project has been delayed yet again, this time for four more years, due to a problem with securing financing. A South Korean firm had planned to convert an old military airfield into Hanthawaddy Airport to relieve some of the pressure on the existing airport in Yangon back in 1994, but the plan has been repeatedly shelved. Myanmar’s Civil Aviation Department said the next target for a resumption of the plan will be 2022.

Istanbul “New Airport” (Istanbul, Turkey) – With both Attatürk and Sabiha Gökçen airports at or near capacity, Istanbul is currently building this third facility west of the Bosphorus that is expected to become the largest airport in the world. With a capacity of 150 million passengers a year and a 20,000-square-meter express cargo operation, the complex began construction in May and could begin operations by 2017.

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