- The certification process of the new International Airport in Praia, Cape Verde's capital, has entered its final phase with the arrival of a team of consultants from New Zealand in Cape Verde. No date has yet been set for the opening of Praia's new airport, which will be Cape Verde's second international airport after Sal.
The information on the certification process comes from Mário Lopes Paixão, the President of the administrative council of Cape Verde's Airport and Air Security company, ASA. Civil Aeronautics Institute (IAC) President Valdemar Correia, for his part, says he is not concerned with setting a specific date for the opening of the airport, but rather with working to have it certified as soon as possible.
The final word on the certification of the new Praia International Airport belongs to the Cape Verdean Civil Aeronautics Institute. But ASA President Paixão expresses optimism and predicts that the process will be concluded before the end of July.
- Things are moving along at a good pace, thanks to the cooperation of everyone involved in the process, Mr Paixão told 'A Semana'. "This is a gratifying experience for all of us at ASA and IAC. This is being assisted by experienced professionals," assured Mr Paixão, who recalled that this type of cooperation is not common in the certification sector on an international level.
Meanwhile, according to Mr Paixão, many of ASA's services have already moved to the new airport, and the task force named by the Cape Verdean government to make the Praia International Airport operational is working alongside ASA, the Cape Verdean Meteorological Institute and TACV Cabo Verde Airlines to have the structure ready to function as soon as possible.
Still, no date is set for the opening. "The opening of the new Praia airport depends on the results of the certification, which itself depends on ASA and the IAC, but it is being duly worked upon alongside TACV in order to assure a safe transfer from Francisco Mendes Airport to the new Praia International Airport. Everything is under control, safe and on the path desired by all," said Mr Paixão, who nevertheless declined to specify a definite date for the opening of the airport.
With the team from the IAC, reinforced by the presence of the specialists from New Zealand on the island of Sal, where they will remain until Wednesday, 28 July, Valdemar Correia also declined to specify a date for the conclusion of the process.
- Until we have all of the data in our hands, we cannot specify a date, said Mr Correia. "An airport has various different elements, including airlines, customers, customs, and the police, among others. We are going to certify everything, not just the infrastructure itself," he concluded.
Cape Verde's main connection with the outside world now goes via the international airport on Sal Island - which is also the country's main charter tourism destination. With the opening of the new Praia airport, the government and private investors expect that also the large island of Santiago, some 200 kilometres south-west of Sal, soon will be opened to charter tourism.
Tourism infrastructure - including large luxury hotels and beach resorts - is already being built outside Praia. The small village and beach resort of São Francisco, some 14 kilometres north-east of Praia and close to the new airport is soon ready to receive large numbers of charter tourists, according to the constructers.
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