Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) is the largest and the busiest International Airport in Tanzania, located in Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania. The airport is one of the 58 functional government owned airports and airstrips developed, operated and managed by the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA). JNIA stretches about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) southwest of the city. It was formally known as Dar es Salaam International Airport (DIA) before it was renamed in 2006 in honor of Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the first President of the United Republic of Tanzania who died in 1999. The airport serves flights to and from different destinations in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Currently there are three terminals, terminal I which is specific for chartered flights and small aircrafts; terminal II for local flights; and terminal three for international flights. Terminal III has the capacity of handling up to 6,000,000 passengers annually.
From humble beginnings: Sea-Port and Mkeje Aerodrome
Available scripts and tales of inhabitants of the area show that the first airport of the city of Dar es Salaam developed during colonial period was a "sea port" which formed part of the sea between the Ferry and the beach next to St. Joseph’s Cathedral. The passenger Terminal was near the current Ardhi House. The airport was later moved to Kilwa Road near the current National Stadium and changed its name to Mkeje Aerodrome. It was situated between the current Headquarters of the National Housing Corporation and the International Trade Fair Grounds, popularly known as Saba-Saba grounds. The Mgulani Military Base was also part of airport area.
As the aviation industry in East Africa expanded, the Dar-es-salaam aerodrome was found to be insufficient. However, expansion of the aerodrome was hindered by unfavourable geographical features including high altitude in the immediate vicinity, dense coconut vegetation and swampy land. In addition, a considerable number of local people had already settled around the airport area. It was therefore decided to shift the airport to a new location. Ukonga area was chosen as the new location for the aerodrome. Site clearing and construction commenced in 1951 and by October 1954 the airport was officially opened to business. The airport was renamed Dar es Salaam International Airport (DIA). This part of the airport is what is today known as Terminal I and it caters for chartered flights.
The aerodrome was later expanded in the early 80s with additional infrastructure and facilities installed including a control tower, radar, meteorological services, runways, taxiways and air navigational aids, which increased its capacity to 1,500,000 passengers and 30,000 tons of cargo annually. In October 1984 a second and larger terminal was officially launched by the First President of Tanzania, the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. In October 2005, "Dar es Salaam International Airport" was renamed "Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere International Airport" and on 1 November 2006, it was changed to "Julius Nyerere International Airport.” This part of the airport is solely for domestic flights.
In April 2013, the Tanzania Airports Authority signed a TSH 275 billion contract with BAM International of the Netherlands for the construction of the first phase of Terminal III, with a capacity of 3.5 million passengers per year. Two years later, in November 2015, the second phase was also awarded to BAM, at a contract price of US$110 million, to add the capacity to an additional 2.5 million passengers per year. This part of the airport is dedicated to international flights and has the capacity to handle 11 Boeing 777’s at a time, more than 15 Boeing 737’s or Airbus 320.
Terminal III officially opened by Hon. Dr. John P. Magufuli during the inauguration ceremony held on 1st August 2020.
Current Status and Future Outlook
Given its favorable geographical location, with links to all other modes of transportation - sea, rail and road, the future outlook for JNIA of being the center of business for the region is ideal.