Lebanon Businessnews News

Plan to reopen Kleiat airport
Kabbani: Facilities need to be upgraded
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The plan to reopen Kleiat airport in Akkar has come back to the fore recently as both the public and private sectors express interest in the idea.

Parliament’s Public Works and Transportation Committee met on Tuesday to discuss the matter. The committee called on the ministerial committee tasked with studying prospects for reopening the airport to submit its decision in one month. “The committee should declare its plan for executing the project, whether it decided to allocate a budget from the treasury, or to launch a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) scheme,” said MP Mohamad Kabbani, president of the committee.

Mohamad Choucair, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon (CCIABML), said he will visit Kleiat airport this week to study the feasibility of using the airport for cargo and charter flights.
Kabbani said that technical and political barriers need to be resolved before the airport can become operational: “The airport requires some vital improvements, mainly the runway, buildings, and the roads leading to it.” He said making the airport operation is linked to appointing the Aviation Authority. It also requires an agreement with Syria, due to the airport's proximity to Syrian territory.

Kabbani said the decision to reopen Kleiat airport is to be taken through a Cabinet decree. “So far there is no political decision to do so,” he said.

In January, the cabinet announced plans to rehabilitate Kleiat airport for cargo traffic and for use by low-cost carriers. The planned renovation included building a 500 square meter duty free zone but the plan never materialized.

Earlier plans included privatizing the airport through a BOT contract. The initial value of the project was set at $180 million, another proposal shrunk that to just $80 million.
Reported by Hanadi Chami
Date Posted: Sep 18, 2012
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