Cape's infrastructure crusade starts to pay dividends

A scattering of 10 idyllic islands off the west coast of Africa, Cape Verde may not be a major player in the global aviation sector, but it is making significant strides in developing connectivity to boost the island nation’s trade and tourism.

Sal Island airport

One of the key drivers of the sector growth has been substantial investments in airport infrastructure. Work is due to start early this year on the modernisation and expansion of airports including the main gateway serving Cape Verde, Amilcar Cabral International Airport on Sal Island.

These upgrades follow the finalisation last year of a deal with French airport operator, Vinci Airports, to share a 40-year concession across seven airports in the Cape Verde archipelago, with Portuguese subsidiary Aeroportos de Portugal (ANA).

The deal was secured with €60 million (US$66 million) funding from the World Bank-IFC, France’s Proparco and Germany’s DEG.

In one of Vinci Airports’ first financing arrangements of its kind, the funding is linked with sustainability targets, including a progressive reduction in carbon emissions.

The operator described Cape Verde’s airports as having “solid potential” and in line with the sustainability-linked financing framework, is rolling out an environmental action plan including the development of renewable energy production at airports.

Vinci isn’t the only company to have invested in Cape Verde’s aviation sector. Last year also saw global technology and consulting firm, Indra, implement a far-reaching programme to modernise the country’s air traffic control centres and towers, equipping them with advanced technology to manage air traffic more efficiently.

Given that Cape Verde’s Sal Island oceanic control centre is the final point of contact for aircraft crossing the Atlantic to the US, the renewal of systems “will have an immediate impact on the punctuality of operations at airports in Africa, America and Europe,” said Enrique Castillo, Indra’s ATM sales director.

There’s no shortage of carriers lining up to serve the islands either. British leisure operator Tui announced at the end of 2023 it is one of the latest airlines to expand its services from the UK to Boa Vista and Sal.

Meanwhile, Bestfly Cabo Verde’s operations are now back on track following disruptions and cancellations of its services at the end of August, due to supply chain and logistical challenges and a two-day strike by cabin crew in November.

Chloe Greenbank

Chloe Greenbank

Chloe Greenbank wrote her first airline magazine article two decades ago and has been immersed in aviation magazines ever since.