CAIRO: Egypt has opened a new international airport on a one-month trial basis to serve the city which will become the country's new capital from mid-2020.
The Capital International Airport is located some 70 kilometres to the east of Cairo and is intended to relieve pressure on Cairo International Airport. A third airport, near the Giza Pyramids west of Cairo, the Sphinx International Airport, also opened in January.
"The importance of the Capital Airport is that it partially eases the pressure on Cairo International Airport and Sphinx Airport," Aviation Minister Younis Al-Masry told reporters at a ceremony on Tuesday, after a flight left Cairo and landed at the new airport, which is about 48 kilometres from the city.
"It will be a new outlet for Cairo specifically," he said, adding that the airport would serve areas east of the capital including cities along the Suez Canal.
Workers are rushing to build core areas of the new capital city that will be the seat of Egypt's government, away from bustling Cairo on the Nile that has become a traffic-clogged, urban sprawl of more than 20 million people.
The Capital International Airport will operate with an hourly capacity of 300 passengers during the trial phase that is expected to last a month, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, Sameh al-Hefni, said.
The two new airports, built at opposite ends of Cairo, are aimed at helping to boost tourism, a key sector in Egypt and a major source of foreign revenue.
The sector has been gradually recovering from the political turmoil and security problems that followed the “Arab Spring” civil unrest of 2011.
While the Capital International Airport will service areas east of Cairo, the Sphinx International Airport provides access to the west, where the new Grand Egyptian Museum is due to open next year.