Inside Cairo’s New Terminal

The terminal has 13 contact stands, which are connected to 23 passenger boarding bridges. (EgyptAir)

Richard Maslen reports from the recently opened Terminal 3 at Cairo International Airport, a facility that provides passengers of the Star Alliance members with a much improved travel experience at the Egyptian gateway.

The terminal has 13 contact stands, which are connected to 23 passenger boarding bridges. (EgyptAir)

Cairo International Airport (CAI) is the gateway to a region with history stretching back more than 7,000 years.  A range of breathtaking sites, ancient relics and well-known historical ruins has given the area worldwide fame.  But it is at a brand new, state-of–the-art terminal building that will provide the first and last impressions of the ancient Egyptian capital for many visitors to the city.  The fastest growing of the top 100 airports in the world, according to Airports Council International (ACI), CAI is being developed as a key hub, providing onward connections within the Middle East and North Africa.  Passenger traffic has increased more than 50% since 2004, and with the opening of Terminal 3 (T3) for use by national carrier EgyptAir and current and proposed future members of the Star Alliance, it now offers passengers a much more relaxed travel experience.
The facility’s operator Cairo Airport Company is the first to acknowledge that facilities at CAI have been far from ideal for the traveller.  Rapid passenger growth has meant that over the past two years traffic has actually exceeded the buildings’ stated capacity.  The opening of T3, serving eleven million passengers per year, doubles the airport’s total capacity and is just the first stage of a major renovation, which will upgrade Terminal 2, with a light rail system connecting the buildings and the laying of a new Runway.
Work on T3 commenced in 2004 when the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation gave the green light to build the new facility and after international tender Fraport, the owner and manager of Frankfurt Airport in Germany, was officially awarded an eight-year contract to manage the building.  It was officially inaugurated by the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on December 18, 2008 and formally opened on April 27, 2009 when EgyptAir moved its transatlantic connection to New York to the modern building.  Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and Swiss moved their services from Vienna, Frankfurt and Zurich on May 11 and bmi moved its daily London link from May 15.  Egypt Air’s domestic flights were transferred from T1 to T3 on May 18, and its European flights followed on June 8 while the remainder of its flights were moved across on June 15.  “We learned from the problems with the opening of T5 at London/Heathrow,” Hassan Mahmoud Rashed, Cairo Airport Company Chairman and CEO told Airports International.  “We therefore took this phased approach, which has been very successful.”
Terminal 3 at Cairo International Airport was opened on April 27, but didn’t become fully operational until mid-June when EgyptAir transferred the last of its flights to the new facility. (EgyptAir)

Consisting of five levels, T3 can handle six million passengers on international routes and five on domestic services with two fingers providing access to 20 contact and 33 remote stands.  Each finger also has a single gate capable of handling aircraft of Airbus A380 size, with seating provided for up to 800 passengers.  “We have planned for all possible growth scenarios for the future,” Ahmed El Emary, Chairman Assistant Operation for Cairo Airport Company told Airports International, during an exclusive tour of the terminal shortly after its opening. As part of the existing phase of upgrades, a new road provides access to the Cairo-Suez highway close to the city’s ring road, easing congestion on the current routes into the capital, while a 350-room, Five Star Le Méridien hotel with direct access to the terminal building is also under construction.  Other major investments include a fourth runway to the south of the existing facility, due for completion later this year to replace the existing cross runway; the construction of a new Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower; a new ‘Cargo City’ to handle freight and an Automated People Mover light rail system to connect between the three passenger terminals, the multi-storey car park and the recently constructed shopping complex in the central terminal area – this will also provide access to the expanded Cairo Metro, which subject to formal go-ahead will be extended to serve the airport from 2012.
Transfer Timeline
Cairo Airport Company took a phased approach to the opening of the new Terminal following the problems BAA faced with Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport.

April 27, 2009 EgyptAir to New York
May 4, 2009 Austrian Airlines to Vienna; Lufthansa to Frankfurt and Swiss                                                            International Air Lines to Zurich
May 11, 2009 bmi to London
May 18, 2009 EgyptAir Express to Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh
May 20, 2009 EgyptAir Express to Abu Simbel, Alexandria-El Nouzha, Assiut,                                                        Aswan, Luxor, Marsa Alam and Mersa Matruh
June 15, 2009 EgyptAir to Algiers, Amman, Athens, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Barcelona,                                                Beirut, Bangkok, Brussels, Casablanca, Catania, Damascus,                                                  Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Geneva, Istanbul,
Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kano, Khartoum, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait,
Larnaca, London,  Madrid, Muscat, Medinah, Moscow, Mumbai,
Munich, Milan, Paris, Riyadh, Rome, Sanaa, Sharjah, Tripoli and Vienna
June 16, 2009 EgyptAir to Accra, Addis Ababa, Aleppo, Berlin, Dar-es-Salaam,                                                        Düsseldorf, Entebbe, Lagos, Montreal, Nairobi and Tokyo
June 17, 2009 EgyptAir to Amsterdam, Asmara, Benghazi, Lisbon, Beijing and Tunis
June 18, 2009- EgyptAir to Malta and Osaka
July 6, 2009 Aegean Airlines to Athens
July 17, 2009 Singapore Airlines to Dubai and Singapore
November 8, 2009 Lufthansa to Munich
Year      Passengers         Movements      Cargo (tonnes)
2004       9,534,069            94,921               218,606
2005       10,218,369           99,204               232,548
2006       10,778, 097          105,999              250,219
2007       12,577,456           121,845              279,319
2008         14,360,029        137,333             278,578