Infrastructure and energy minister Belinda Balluku visited the area where the new Kukës airport will be located yesterday, along with Prime Minister Edi Rama.
The airport - which has already attracted the attention of some low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air, RyanAir and Vueling - should be operational in about two years, according to forecasts.
The statements of Balluku and Rama
Speaking to the press, Minister Balluku stressed the strategic importance of the project - given that the airport is located about halfway from the Albanian capital Tirana and the Kosovar capital Prishtina - and its potential for the entire national economy.
"All existing buildings will be demolished to allow the reconstruction of a new, more complete and effective terminal. The lengthening of the runway will be the first step, since it will be necessary to add hundreds of meters to the existing runway."- said Balluku.
Prime Minister Edi Rama, on the other hand, wanted to highlight how the project will create thousands of new jobs and that bureaucratic procedures should be extended for a year:
"There will be a lot of procedures to deal with. We have already seen for 'Air Albania' that it takes a long time for checks and checks with the different groups of international organizations. The important thing is that all these procedures end soon."- said the premier.
The redevelopment works, as confirmed by the airport concessionary company, will end within one year:
"We as a concessionaire will work to ensure that the work is completed by the end of the year. We will do three work shifts and increase staff so that the project is ready for April next year."- said a representative of the company.
Kukës airport is located 3,5 km south from the city of Kukës; during the 1999 crisis, the United Arab Emirates organized a modern reception camp in the city for refugees arriving from Kosovo and, for this reason, they initially built an aerial runway for supplies and incoming aid.
At that time, representatives of the United Arab Emirates thought of developing a civilian airport as a gift for the city, which had to face the greater flow of Kosovar citizens. After the idea was approved, the Kukës airport project was developed with the help of the Directorate General for Civil Aviation (AAC).
On the 15 February 2001 Council of Ministers, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Albania and the United Arab Emirates Government for the construction of the airport was approved. The latter's works were assigned to the company 'Al-Kharafi'.
Work began on 10 in May 2003 and ended on October 31 2005. After completion of the work, the navigation equipment was installed in the 2016. The total investment amounted to around 20 million dollars, excluding navigation equipment that was financed by the United Arab Emirates government.
The 7 June 2006, Kukës airport was transferred under the administration of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DPAC).
Read also: Air Albania, the first flights in mid-April
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