The Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport has a short runway and plans to extend it to accommodate long-range passenger jets first announced in 2020 will boost Timor-Leste’s standing as an international investment and travel hub.
Timor Air, the national carrier, charters Airbus A319s from Druk Air for a service to Singapore and Kupang. The airport is also used by other global carriers including Air North, CitLink, NAMAir, Transnusa and Sriwijaya Air.
The extension of the runway is expected to increase safety standards to attract more airlines, and as a result more passengers and cargo to the airport. It is also pegged to helping Timor-Leste’s accession to global and regional organisations, such as the World Trade Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“The Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport Expansion Project will provide safe and efficient air transport, enhance the country’s connectivity and economic ties with neighbouring Asia and Pacific countries, and improve trade, investment, and labor movement,” Chaorin Shim, ADB’s Transport Specialist said in a statement announcing the loan.
“It will expand tourism and help the country diversify its economy.”
ADB said the airport project would involve extending the runway to 2,100 metres from 1,850 metres and building a new traffic control tower, taxiways, and aprons, and aeronautical ground lighting system.
The operation and maintenance of the airport is expected to be taken over by the private sector, the statement said.