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Addis Ababa Bole International Airport
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLocated 3.7 miles southeast of the city center in the Bole area, and 40 miles north of Debre Zeyit, the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is one of the most convenient and welcoming airports in the African continent. With facilities designed to speed up your departure and arrival, it has two main terminals; 1 and 2, handling international and domestic flights. The Bole Airport has a capacity of 52,800 passengers a day and almost 20 million a year. It is a very impressive airport indeed, in terms of flight numbers, size, and capacity; but unfortunately, the airport management has been unable to cope with the increasing popularity of the site (see the “nice to know” section to read more about it).
HistoryIt was initially known as ‘Haile Selassie I International Airport’, when in 1997, a 3-phase airport expansion plan was announced. Phase one was to see the addition of a parallel runway and expansion of the old runway. Phase two saw the construction of a new terminal comprising a large parking area and shopping and dining facilities. During Phase three of the expansion plan, a 38-meter control tower, double the height of the previous one, was added together with new electrical and fire-fighting equipment.
The airport started operating in January 2003 when the new the international passenger terminal was opened, which became in the process, one of Africa's largest airport passenger terminals, and with a constant service to Asia, Europe, and the American continent. It is the main hub of the national airline company, Ethiopian Airlines, that serves all local destinations and others throughout the African continent. The Ethiopian Aviation Academy is also based at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
As of the 31st of July, 2013, a record number of 150 flights per day were registered; departing from and arriving at the Bole International Airport.
Airport’s layoutWith renovations in 2006 and recently in 2010, costing around 30 million USD each, the airport is now prepared to accommodate the Airbus A380 . It has 2 terminals totaling 11 gates. Terminal 1 with 4 gates; specializes with all domestic flights and flights in the region. Terminal 2 with 7 gates; serves all other international flights including North America.
Bole International Airport has 2 runways. An older one of 2.3 miles, and a more recent one of 2.4 miles International travelers have over 28 counters compared to the domestic ones, with only 14 counters.
The airport is said to expect some new improvements in the years to come, and will soon compete with other busy airports within the African continent such as the O.R Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
Airport AmenitiesSince 2012, Ethiopian Airlines opened its business class lounge “the Cloud Nine Business Class Lounge”. This will provide premium travelers with modern facilities and amenities. The lounge will soon include a spa, a number of private digital lockers for passengers for the storage of their bags, and a special corner for traditional Ethiopian coffee. The expansion is believed to triple the size of the actual lounge. You’ll also be able to take a nap in a special quiet corner with sleeping cots, individual reading lamps, some massage chairs, and an internet surfing corner with complimentary Wi-Fi. Apart from the Ethiopian Airlines Lounge, you’ll find many restaurants (not always popular with travelers), coffee shops and cafés, gift shops, a duty-free area (reputed to be expensive), and foreign exchange banking services, on site.
AccommodationThere are many nice hotels a couple of minutes away (the closest being 5 minutes away) from the airport. With amenities and services ranging from spas, swimming pools, free Wi-Fi and onsite dining options, they are worth trying.
Although some major water cuts have been reported in most of these luxurious hotels, the reviews are quite satisfactory. With helpful staff and a very affordable pricing. Here’s a list of well-known hotels not too far from the Bole International Airport:
- The Sheraton Hotel 14 miles away. Prices start from $ 260 USD per person.
- The Harmony Hotel is the nearest hotel of all the hotels on the list, with 149 rooms, located 5 minutes away, and with prices starting from $ 134 USD per person.
- The Hilton Addis, situated 15 minutes away, it has 372 rooms. The cheapest rooms cost $ 215 USD a night.
- The Tizeze Hotel, the smallest hotel on the list with only 28 rooms. It will cost you at least $ 90 USD a night.
TransportEven though the road system is not well developed in Ethiopia, you can still find some few reasonable way of transport from or to the Bole International Airport. A taxi desk is normally found at the arrival hall for your convenience, with fixed prices (approximately 150 ETB) offered to you for all destinations within the city. But you normally get a better deal by trying to negotiate with a yellow cab driver outside, but first-time visitors to the area sometimes get overpriced and end up paying 200 ETB at the end of day, so make sure you negotiate for prices between 20 ETB to 30 ETB.
The second option is the shuttle bus, which is supplied by most major hotels to and from the airport. Some hotels like the Hilton Addis charges a $ 5.00 USD fee for shuttle bus service, but most of the time it’s free.
For those who like to have more contact with locals, they can chose to get a ride on a minibus to their accommodation. They are normally parked at the Bole Dild minibus station, under the flyover opposite the terminal. It’s cheaper than taking a taxi from the airport but make sure to know the price by asking the locals, as foreigners tend to be overpriced. The actual prices range from 0.75 ETB to 2 ETB.
SafetyThe Bole International Airport, although overcrowded with travelers from 4 continents, is quite safe. The airport staff will always assist you with kindness and patience. Security agents circulate in the area constantly, and no major violent incidents against tourists within the airport has ever been reported until this day.
However, if you are waiting in transit for more than 2 hours, bring magazines with you, or something else to keep you busy, as there are no magazine or bookstores at the airport.
Nice to KnowAlthough a very friendly place, where people always seem to want to help (and they do help), the airport somehow still require lots of improvements. Overall, travelers found it chaotic and Bole International Airport is the least organized of all the busy airports. There are no scanners most of the time, no displays at gates, and the toilets are dirty and scarce.
It looks a bit old for an airport with a huge reputation on the continent, and you’ll have more luck using dollars than any other international currency out there or a credit card.
The immigration service is slow, with long queues for security checks, and a shocking lack of eateries after you pass the security check. If you are lucky, you might be stuck in one of these queues for at least 20 to 40 minutes, but they usually last longer.
And lastly, travelers are most of the time confused with the unclear announcements of flights.
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Author: Comasco. Last updated: May 10, 2015