Mozambique's Nacala airport set to open

Airport to become commerical hub for northern Mozambique

The old airbase at Nacala in the north of Mozambique will reopen as a new international airport on 13 December, according to the nation's transport minister Gabriel Muthisse. Once open, the 200-hectare commercial airport will be able to handle up to 600,000 commuters a year. Crucially it means that international passengers will no longer have to transit through Maputo to get to northern Mozambique.

So far the only airline confirmed to operate out of Nacala is the Mozambican carrier LAM.

The former airbase was converted by Brazilian construction company Odebrecht at an estimated cost of $200 million, co-financed by the Brazilian and Mozambican governments.

Under construction since September 2011, the airport will have 16 check-in desks and two departure lounges for domestic and international passengers. The upgrading work involved repaving the runway, adding a new terminal and control tower.

Nacala has the deepest natural port along the east coast of Africa and is the nearest sea outlet for both Malawi and Zambia. It is also an important staging point for tourist attractions in the north, such as Mozambique Island, a World Heritage Site.

Nacala is also strategically important for oil exploration off the coast of Mozambique.