Arriving in Tirana, the capital of Albania, the spacious and bright terminal building of Sister Teresa International Airport is a pleasant sight. As Albanias most important transportation hub and the only international airport, Tirana International Airport was first built by China in the early 1960s. In October 2016, the Everbright Overseas Infrastructure Fund managed by Everbright Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of China Everbright Group, acquired a 100% stake in Tirana International Airport and obtained the franchise of Tirana International Airport until 2027. In the past three years, the passenger volume of Tirana International Airport has increased by 50%. It has become one of the fastest growing airports in Europe. The airport has also become a successful case of one belt and one road jointly built by China and Albania.
The way home feels closer and closer.
Albania has a large number of nationals working in developed countries in Europe, while living overseas nearly 2.8 million people, the growing overseas population and stop-and-stop passenger flow put forward higher requirements for Albanian air passenger transport capacity. Vasquez, president of Tirana International Airport, said, There are currently 16 airlines operating at Tirana International Airport. Passengers increased from 600,000 in 2005 to 2 million in 2016, and this year the number is expected to exceed 3 million.
The runway and apron of Tirana International Airport have not been renovated and repaired for about 30 years before 2016. Hu Jiangdong, chairman of the airport and managing director of Guangda Overseas Infrastructure Fund, told reporters that after taking over the operation of the airport, China has invested a lot of money in the airport runway, apron and other facilities. Maintenance, renovation and renovation are currently planned to expand the airport terminal to meet the growing demand for passenger traffic. The airport will add several new routes every year, and more than 10 routes have been added in the past three years.
Vasquez said, In terms of the current global airport passenger flow increment, the developed countries averaged 3% per year, the developing countries averaged 6% per year, and Tirana International Airport averaged nearly 20% per year. In the bustling airport terminal hall, the reporter met Melta Chikalesi, an Albanian who worked in Milan, Italy, all the year round. He told the reporter: Before, we had to buy tickets half a month in advance, and we always hoped that the flight ticket source would not be so tight. Now the arrival of Chinese enterprises has helped us realize our desire to travel conveniently. There are more flights to choose from, fares become more people-friendly, and the way home feels closer and closer.
Employees have a full sense of achievement
The airport terminal is crowded with cafes, restaurants, car rental companies and gift shops. Reporters can hardly find a place in an outdoor cafe outside the terminal hall. The owner of the cafe, Mam Shay, was very busy. When he saw the visitors Chinese face, he talked with reporters with great interest. My shop opened five years ago. Passengers have doubled in the past few years, and business in stores has been booming. Now the turnover of a day is three or four times that of the original one. Im thinking about hiring a few more guys.
Compared with previous airport management concepts, we focus more on the promotion of airport development to the local economy and society. With better operation and more investment, we will build the airport as the symbolic international portal of Albania. Hu Jiangdong told reporters that Tirana International Airport employs more than 300 local Albanian employees and 500 additional employees in peak season. The construction and upgrading of the airport has also led to various consumption such as catering, shopping and parking, and directly stimulated the employment of more than 2,000 people around it. When it comes to the management of airports by Chinese enterprises, the local people praise it very much.
Airport Purchasing and Insurance Manager Albi Palusch has worked at the airport for nearly four years. Chinese enterprises advocate an open culture. Chinese partners think for local employees. With their encouragement and leadership, we are heading for a better future. Our income is increasing every year, and if we work hard, we get bonuses in addition to salaries, and our employees feel full of rewards, Palusch said.
Airports are important for Albania, Vasquez said. Our common goal with our Chinese partners is to provide top-notch services for passengers and enhance the well-being of our employees. The arrival of Chinese companies has brought us professional standards, produced a good chemical reaction with the local, all staff are proud of the development and growth of the airport. It is expected that under the leadership of Chinese enterprises, the airport will continue to improve and strengthen to better meet the needs of passengers.
Looking forward to cooperating with more Chinese enterprises
According to Hu Jiangdong, the company is currently negotiating with more Chinese enterprises such as Huawei, hoping to develop new functions and business of the airport with the help of the technology and strength of Chinese enterprises. Agriculture is the pillar industry of Albania, and the company is actively communicating with the Ministry of Agriculture of Albania to help sell Albanian characteristic agricultural products to China.
Chinese enterprises have done a great job. They always put the balance of social and economic benefits in the first place. The Albanian Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Damian Giknuri, praised Chinese companies for actively opening up markets and new routes and effectively improving Airport capacity. Albania and China have a long history of friendship. With the concerted efforts of the two countries, the operation of Tirana International Airport has been significantly improved, airport facilities and hardware have been significantly improved, effectively promoting the development of trade and tourism in Albania.
Eddie Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, said that Albania is looking forward to cooperating with more Chinese enterprises and hopes that the two sides can carry out more cooperation under the framework of the one belt and one road initiative and the cooperation between China and the central and Eastern European countries. Vasquez said that the one belt and one way initiative is a grand plan that can promote global trade and economic growth. We support and hope to participate more.