ⓘ Cairo International Airport
Cairo International Airport is the principal international airport of Cairo and the busiest airport in Egypt and serves as the primary hub for EgyptAir and Nile Air as well as several other airlines. The airport is located in Heliopolis, to the northeast of the Cairo around 15 kilometres from the business area of the city and has an area of approximately 37 square kilometres. It is the second busiest airport in Africa after OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces built Payne Airfield to serve the Allied Forces, rather than take over the existing Almaza Airport located 5 kilometres 3.1 mi away. Payne Field was a major Air Transport Command air cargo and passenger hub, connecting westwards through Benghazi Airport during the war known as Soluch Airfield to Algiers airport on the North African route to Dakar Airport, in French West Africa.
Other locations which transport routes were flown were RAF Habbaniya, Iraq on the Cairo – Karachi, India route; Lydda Airport, BritishPalestine; Jeddah, Arabia, on the Central African route to Roberts Field, Liberia 1941–1943, and later after the war ended, Athens, Greece and on to destinations in Europe.
When American forces left the base at the end of the war, the Civil Aviation Authority took over the facility and began using it for international civil aviation. In 1963, Cairo International Airport replaced the old Heliopolis Airport, which had been located at the Hike-Step area in the east of Cairo.
The airport is administered by the Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation, which controls the Cairo Airport Company, the Egyptian Airports Company, National Air Navigation Services and Aviation Information Technology, and the Cairo Airport Authority. In 2004, Fraport AG won the management contract to run the airport for eight years, with options to extend the contract twice in one year increments.
The terminal facilities include Departure Hall 1, International Hall 3, and Hall 4 for private and non-commercial aircraft services. As part of the recent upgrading and facility improvement scheme, the CAA demolished the old Hall 3, previously used for domestic arrivals and departures, to reconstruct a new hall to be used for international arrivals. Terminal 1 is locally known as the "Old Airport," although its facilities were recently given a complete overhaul and are newer than those of Terminal 2, which is still known as the "New Airport."
2.1. Terminals Terminal 1
Terminal 1 was originally used by EgyptAir and several Middle Eastern airlines. However, an increasing number of other foreign carriers, such as Air France and KLM transferred operations from Terminal 2 in 2006. In May 2009 EgyptAir moved all its operations to the new Terminal 3 along with all Star Alliance airlines serving the airport. In March 2010, with the closure of Terminal 2 for major renovation works, all non-Star Alliance airlines serving the airport shifted operations to the terminal.
Departures and arrivals are with all airlines departing from Terminal 1 Hall 1, with the exception Saudia which is the sole tenant of Terminal 1 Hall 2 due to the size of their operations SV accounted for 65% of Terminal 2s traffic in 2009. Most international airlines arrive in Hall 3. Arrival Hall 2 was recently reopened and serves international and domestic arrivals.
The CAC has inaugurated the "Airport City Concept" to provide an array of services and entertainment facilities to travelers, airport visitors, as well as the general public. The first phase, a new shopping mall called the AirMall, has been built near Terminal 1s International Arrival Hall 3.
As of 2009 the facade of the terminal was being upgraded. A study on reorganizing the departure and arrival halls is ongoing as well as the feasibility study to include contact stands to improve the service and comfort levels to the passengers. Terminal 1 has 12 gates.
2.2. Terminals Hall 4
Terminal 1, Hall 4 is dedicated to private and executive jet services. Even though it is referred to as a Hall under Terminal 1 it is operated independently from the commercial passenger terminal.
Smart Aviation Company has been based at the building since 2007; it moved to a new executive FBO in 2010 adjacent to Hall 4.
2.3. Terminals Terminal 2
Terminal 2 was inaugurated in 1986 with 7 boarding gates. It primarily served European, Gulf and East Asian airlines. The terminal was closed in April 2010 for complete renovations starting in 2012 and lasting 36 months. The architecture of the building limited the opportunities for further expansion which necessitated the entire building to be closed for major structural overhaul at an estimated cost of approximately $400 million.
In February 2010 the World Banks Board of Executive Directors approved a loan amount of $387 million to support the Cairo Airport Development Project CADP to overhaul the terminal with national banks providing the rest. The project aimed at increasing the terminal capacity from 3 million to 7.5 million passengers annually. The upgrade included the complete modernisation of the 20-year-old facility to reach the same level of service as the new Terminal 3. In August 2011, Turkeys Limak Holding won the tender for modernising the terminal.
After several project delays, the renovated terminal had its soft opening on 28 September 2016 with a capacity of 7.5 million passengers bringing the airports total passenger capacity to 30 million passengers annually. The new terminal has 14 gates and an additional 5 remote stands.
During February 2017, Saudi Arabian Airlines launched its first international "Al-Fursan lounge" at Cairo International Airport Terminal 2. The 1.500 square-meter lounge can accommodate 300 people at a time.
The renovated terminal is operating jointly with Terminal 3 as one integrated terminal via an air bridge, thus, reinforcing the role of Cairo International Airport as a regional hub.
2.4. Terminals Terminal 3
Given projected growth, and the limited ability to expand Terminal 2, the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation began construction of Terminal 3 in 2004. The terminal was officially inaugurated on 18 December 2008 and opened for commercial operations on 27 April 2009. The facility is twice as large as the current two terminal buildings combined, with the capacity to handle 11 million passengers annually 6 million international and 5 million domestic once the first phase is completed. It is adjacent to Terminal 2, and the two terminals are initially connected by a bridge.
With its hub at the airport, EgyptAirs operations were overhauled with the full transfer of its operations international and domestic into the new terminal between 27 April and 15 June 2009. To implement the Star Alliance "Move Under One Roof" concept, all Alliance members serving the airport were relocated to the terminal by the first of August 2009.
The new terminal includes:
- Two piers of extendable capacity and gates facilities serving domestic and international traffic on contact and remote stands. The main building and the piers are connected by concourses. Two of the gates are equipped to handle Airbus A380 aircraft. Provisions for a third pier are in the planning stages.
- International food court with Oriental, Asian and Western food.
- Retails space covers more than 5.000m 2 4.034m 2 occupied by EgyptAir Tourism & Duty Free Shops.
- Terminal 3 has 23 gates 2 gates for the A380, 6 check-in islands consisting of 110 check-in counters plus 10 mobile counters and 10 CUSS kiosks, 76 immigration counters plus 5 biometric gates, 52 contact and remote aircraft parking stands 5 with multiple use, 425 FIDS, 15 public information points, 7 baggage carousels, 63 elevators, 50 moving walkways and 51 escalators.
- Land side roads including bridges and fly-over serving the traffic to and from the terminal building, surface car park areas multi-story parking garage capable of holding more than 3.000 cars, a new access road connecting the airport with the Autostrad road Cairo ring road and upgrading the access roads.
2.5. Terminals Seasonal flight terminal
On 20 September 2011 Prime Minister Sharaf inaugurated the new Seasonal Flights Terminal ST, located west of Terminal 3. During the start-up phase EgyptAir operates its daily flight to Medina from the new Terminal. All Hajj traffic of EgyptAir will move to the ST while Saudias Hajj flights will still operate from Terminal 1. More destinations might be added during winter.
The terminal has an annual capacity of 3.2 million passengers with 27 check-in counters and 7 gates with a common gate and single security concept, the first in Cairo. It is designed to handle 1.200 passengers per hour. Passengers will be bussed to remote aircraft stands around Terminal 3. Its purpose is to ease operational strains on the existing terminals during pilgrim seasons.
3.1. Facilities Overview
The airport has four terminals, the third and largest opened on 27 April 2009 and the Seasonal Flights Terminal opened on 20 September 2011. Terminal 2 was closed in April 2010 for major renovation works and was reopened on 28 September 2016. A third parallel runway replaced the crossing runway in 2010. Runway 05L/23R is 3.301 metres 10.830 ft long, 05C/23C has a length of 4.000 metres 13.000 ft, and the new runway is designated as 05R/23L and is 3.999 metres 13.120 ft.
3.2. Facilities Terminal Transfer
The MiniMetro people mover links Terminal 1, the AirMall, the multi-storey car park and Terminals 2 and 3. The main station is located between Terminals 2 and 3 and is an integral part of the bridge connecting the two terminals. An air-cushioned 1.85 km 1.15 mi system with top speed 50 km/h 31 mph was designed and constructed by Leitner-Poma.
3.3. Facilities Airport Hotel
A luxury 350-room five-star Le Meridien hotel opened in front of Terminal 3 in December 2013. The hotel is linked to the terminal by a 230-metre-long 750 ft skyway that is also equipped with a moving walkway.
3.4. Facilities Future developments
With the national carrier, EgyptAir, and the Egyptian authorities planning to develop the airport as a hub for the Middle East and Africa, the airport facilities are in constant development.
Several projects are underway, including:
- Construction of Aerocity, a family leisure park to be built within the airports investment zone. With an area of 3 square kilometres 1.2 sq mi, the enterprise should cost 1 billion Egyptian pounds US$183 million and will be carried out in two phases. The first phase will consist of the building of a business centre, and the second, of an entertainment park following the guidelines of Disney World, in the United States. There will also be parks, artificial lake, game courts, a water park, 18 cinemas and several restaurants. This will be a new feature of Cairo Airport and forms part of the long-term development and modernization plan.
- Development of real estate and the Oasis Project which entails a business park with company headquarters and regional offices.
- The Cairo Cargo City CCC will provide facilities to support the growth in cargo traffic through the airport.
- Continued upgrade of the land-side façade of Terminal 1.
- Expanding the Cairo Metro to serve the airport. The new line, Line 3, which is in an advanced stage of execution, will link Greater Cairo from east to west with the airport at one end, and Mohandessin district at the other. It is expected to be fully operational by 2019.
- Construction of a multi-storey car park located near Terminal 3.
4.1. Ground transport Limousines and shuttle buses
There are several ways to leave Cairo airport upon arrival. The most convenient way is by one of the numerous "limousine services". Pick-up points are in front of the terminals curb side. The prices are fixed depending on the destination and the car category, but different providers may charge wildly different prices. Category A are luxury limousines e.g. Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Category B are Micro Buses for up to seven passengers, Category C are midsized cars e.g. Mitsubishi Lancer and new Category D are London Taxis.
4.2. Ground transport Public transport
Public buses leave outside terminal 1 and connect frequently to transportation hubs like Abbasia and Tahrir Square but can be confusing for visitors and are not suitable for persons carrying large pieces of baggage. Line 3 of the Cairo Metro will connect the airport to Heliopolis, Central Cairo and Giza in the future. Intercity buses leave from the bus station located in between the terminals.
4.3. Ground transport Taxi
The taxis usually do not have a meter and prices are negotiated before travelling while the newer white taxis have meters, but will generally refuse to use it when leaving from the airport and charge significantly more.
4.4. Ground transport Car
The airport can be reached via Oroba Road from Heliopolis or via the new road, connection Terminal 3 with the intersection between Ring Road and Suez Road. The toll for driving to the airport is EGP 15.
5. Accidents and incidents
- On 6 September 1970, Pan Am Flight 93, which was flying to New York City from Amsterdam, was hijacked and landed in Cairo after refueling and picking up another hijacker in Beirut. The Boeing 747-100 was blown up after everyone got out. The hijackers were arrested later.
- On 15 January 1968, Douglas DC-3 SU-AJG of United Arab Airlines departed on an international scheduled cargo flight to Beirut when the crew decided to return due to icing. The aircraft subsequently broke up in mid-air and crashed at Zifta, killing all four people on board. The cargo shifting in flight and the aircraft being 500 kilograms 1.100 lb overloaded may have contributed to the accident.
- On 18 March 1966, United Arab Airlines Flight 749 crashed while attempting to land at Cairo International Airport. All 30 passengers and crew on board were killed.
- On 20 May 1965, PIA Flight 705, a Boeing 720–040B, crashed on approach to Runway 34, killing 121.
- On 19 March 1965, Vickers Viscount YI-ACU of Iraqi Airways was damaged beyond economic repair when it ran into a number of lamp standards after a hydraulic system failure.
- On 20 February 1956, a "Transports Aeriens Intercontinentaux" Douglas DC-6B on a scheduled Saigon-Karachi-Cairo-Paris flight crashed on approach to Cairo airport, killing 52 of the 63 people on board.
- 2010 – one of the three most improved airports by Skytrax World Airport Awards
- 2011 – second Best Airport in Africa of the Airport Service Quality Awards by Airports Council International