Egypt, new dimensions, new frontiers

H.E. Dr. Igrahim El-Dimeery

Interview with:

H. E. Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Motwali El-Demeri
Minister of Transport

Cairo, April 16th, 2000

El-Nasr street, Nasr City, CAIRO-EGYPT
Tel: (202) 263 80 38
Fax: (202) 261 05 10
You have made some significant changes to both Egypt Air and the Cairo Airport. Could you tell us a little bit about this, and how they fit into your general strategy for Egyptian air transport?

Our policy is to develop all transport sectors, not just air transport. However, in relation to air transport, the latest statistics show that 84 million passengers have passed through Cairo Airport in the last year, which is a 5% increase on last 10 years. This growth looks set to accelerate, and because of this we need to develop our air terminal capacity. After 20 years we will undoubtedly need an entirely new airport, but at present our priority is to develop a third terminal for the existing airport to cope with the demands of the immediate future. This will cost about US$900 million. We have also formulated a new plan for logistics and freight areas at the airport, which includes a separate area for these services, as well as a new taxi-way and tarmac solely for freight.

At the same time we are working on the renovation of Terminal One to increase its capacity, and we plan to build a multi-storey car park to cope with this aspect of increased demand. We have designated a 100 km2 area in the 10th October City, in the west of Cairo for the new airport and we anticipate that construction will begin in approximately 15 years, so that it can be up and running in 20 years time.

Egypt Air is now working in the 'Open Skies' environment, and this demands some restructuring on our behalf. It is now an open market and we have to be more competitive. We are considering joint ventures with KLM and Lufthansa, amongst others as we suspect that Egypt Air is not big enough to compete on its own. We are waiting on the outcome of our own studies which will provide us with direction in regards to this. As you are aware there are two sectors of Egypt Air, the aviation sector and the support services, such as catering and maintenance. We are presently studying the financial balance of each of these support services, and we shall see if we can restructure them somehow. Our studies should be completed in roughly four months time, and then we will have concrete information on which to base our decisions.

So the future direction of Egypt Air is still under consideration?

Yes, that is true. The competition is tougher now and we need to change in order to survive.

Is this separation of aspects such as maintenance and catering likely to lead to the privatization of some of these services?

We are also studying what role the private sector has to play in the field of aviation services. We must wait on the outcome of our studies, however.

We are beginning to see the results of the open skies policy now, which is very exciting. Who are the new local carriers that will service tourist sites?

We have about 15 private Egyptian carriers working together with Egypt Air on domestic flights. Egypt Air has about 78 international lines and it is very busy with this. These smaller companies will be able to take some of the burden of internal and international flights from Egypt Air and increase the number of flight availability for tourists.

Can you tell us a little about the proposed high-speed rail link to Alexandria?

Our existing rail network is undergoing considerable improvements. We are changing from diesel to electric trains, starting with the Cairo to Alexandria line, as this represents 30 percent of all rail traffic within Egypt. This project has the first priority, and will be based on the existing infrastructure.
In tandem with this we are working with a Spanish consortium who is preparing a feasibility study for the high speed link between Cairo and Alexandria. It will be completely separate from the existing network, as all the train and track specifications are completely different. It will be built to the west of the river Nile and will run at about 300 km per hour. The concept is to facilitate tourist movement within Egypt, and promote the development of the western part of Egypt.

How are you improving the regional integration of Egypt's transport networks?

We are very interested in developing links between Egypt and all of our neighbors. We are working on an international road network which will really unite North Africa and the surrounding areas. Our policy is to negotiate with our neighbors to develop this, in order to facilitate the exports of all the countries involved. We want to re-develop our international railway and highway network, and push it out as far as Syria and Turkey to connect Europe with Africa through the Asian side.

What investment opportunities are there in Egypt that you think our readers may be interested in, within the sphere of transportation and infrastructure?

First of all, we are looking for investors in the highway network. Secondly there are six upcoming tenders for Airports as we plan to have air access, eventually to Ras Sidr, Sharm El-Sheikh, Aswan, Abu Simbel an Luxor and Al-Sukhna. there are already airports under construction by investors at Marsa Allam, El Allamein, el Wahat and El Farafera. We are looking for investors to rebuild all the main railway stations here in Egypt with new, more modern specifications. Investors involved in this will benefit from the ability to build associated hotels, parking facilities, shops and so on, and we will share with these companies the operation and maintenance business that stems from the sector. We are looking for investors for the 35km rapid transport system between Burg el Arab Airport and Alexandria. The reason for this is that the new terminal at Burg el Arab can absorb all the growing traffic that presently flies into Alexandria airport.

In your view, what is the role of your the Ministry of Transportation for the development of Egypt?

As you know, development and infrastructure go hand in hand and there is no development without a good transportation system that leads to a good accessibility facilities.

We have innovative ideas to develop the existing system and meet the demands of the future.

As a conclusion what I want to emphasize on is that there are many opportunities of investments in the different sectors of our ministry.

In the Maritime sector, aviation sector, railways and urban transportation. Foreign investors are welcome to study the projects and implement it. I assure you that they will get all the support and cooperation from our side.

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© World INvestment NEws, 2000.
This is the electronic edition of the special country report on Egypt published in Forbes Global Magazine.
August 7th 2000 Issue.
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