Nelson Mandela International Airport

Praia International Airport
Airport type Public
Operator Aeroportos Segurança Aérea (ASA)
Location Praia, Cape Verde
Focus city for Cabo Verde Airlines[1]
Elevation AMSL 230 ft / 70 m
Coordinates 14°55′27.12″N 23°29′38.04″W / 14.9242000°N 23.4939000°W / 14.9242000; -23.4939000Coordinates: 14°55′27.12″N 23°29′38.04″W / 14.9242000°N 23.4939000°W / 14.9242000; -23.4939000
Website RAI Website
Location in Cape Verde
Direction Length Surface
ft m
3/21 6,876 2,096 asphalt
Statistics (2016)
Passengers 522,584
Operations 8,641
Metric tonnes of cargo 1,109[2]

Nelson Mandela International Airport (IATA: RAI, ICAO: GVNP), also known as Praia International Airport, is an airport located on Santiago Island in Cape Verde and being the island's airport, also it is Sotavento's only place for international flights. It was opened in late 2005, replacing the old Francisco Mendes International Airport. It is located about 3 km northeast of central Praia in the southeastern part of the island of Santiago and is in the northern part of the neighbourhood of Achada Grande Tras. It is accessed by the Praia Circular Road which serves as an alternate route between the port and the north of the island and Avenida Aristides Pereira, both part of Santiago Primary Route 6 (EN1-ST06) and intersects at the roundabout and the road to São Tomé in the northeast.

About the airport

The IATA 3-letter code for the airport is the second, third and fourth letters of the city name Praia.

The departures area is divided into the national and international areas. The international area has a customs section for passengers entering and exiting the nation. It is the main customs house, which used to be located in the Port of Praia. There is another customs house at the port. It is one of four customs sections in the nation located at the airport. At the arrivals area, there is also the domestic area where there is also a luggage area and the international area with a customs section for passport control for passengers entering and exiting the nation.

To the south of the building is a VIP terminal and a cargo terminal. At the cargo terminal, a portion of the goods goes through the airport. Most of the goods go through the port.

The airport has a control tower for ordering, leaving and moving in the airport. The control tower is also used to control air traffic flying over the archipelago.

At the south end of the airport is car parking and car rentals. There is also a fire station. At the north end is a hangar where planes are built and repaired.

The airport's runway is categorized as 4D, and is 2,103 meters long and 45 meters wide. It is accessed by two taxiways. The airport runways are illuminated 24 hours a day.

The aircraft parking has six stands, and when an additional three are added, will total nine.[3]


The first flight to the new airport was on 23 October 2005 with the TACV flight from Lisbon.[4] Even though the airport serves the capital and largest city, Praia as well as the island of Santiago, Cape Verde's main international airport is Amílcar Cabral International Airport located on the smaller island of Sal.[5]

Once connected with a single road up to 2009, since that time, it connects with the Praia Circular Road a bypass which links the Praia-Tarrafal and the Praia-Cidade Velha Routes.

In January 2012 a Cape Verde government statement noted that Praia International Airport was renamed after South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela, an icon for freedom in Africa, not without controversy.[6]

In 2013, the annual passenger number reached over 500,000 and numbered 505,497, it also had 8,978 air operations and transported 1,418 tonnes of cargo.[7][8] Also that year, the pavement was degraded and the runway and the taxi ways were repaved and repaired, they used and experimental asphalt that is resistant to UV rays.

In 2014, additional aircraft parking area was added and accommodated nine planes, mainly Airbus and Boeing planes with three spots for the ATR, also an additional 6,000 square meters of the terminal building were added,[9] Also on June 12, 2014, the runway will be extended to 2,600 meters from 2,100, it will cost about $5 billion escudos (€ 36 Mio).[10]

In April 2017, Binter CV added a flight with São Filipe Airport. Starting on June 2, 2017, it will have the first flight with the Azores in the country as Azores Airlines will connect flights with Ponta Delgada and Praia.

Airlines and destinations

Azores Airlines Ponta Delgada
Seasonal: Boston
Binter CV Boa Vista, Maio, Sal, São Filipe,[11] São Nicolau, São Vicente
Cabo Verde AirlinesBoston,[12] Lisbon
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon
TUI fly Netherlands Amsterdam


YearPassengersOperationsCargo (T)

See also


  2. "Movement of Planes, Passengers and Cargos at Airports" (PDF) (in Portuguese). ASA. 31 December 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  3. "Aeroporto da Cidade da Praia vai ser ampliado e modernizado com apoio do BAD". Expresso das Ilhas (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2018-08-20.
  4. "Novo Aeroporto: Primeiro voo intercontinental chega hoje à Praia" [New Airport: First Intercontinental Flight Arrives in Praia]. A Semana (in Portuguese). 23 October 2005. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  5. "New Cape Verde Airport to Open Soon". Visão News.
  6. "Cape Verde Names Airport After Nelson Mandela". All Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  7. "Relative Statistics in Airports" (PDF) (in Portuguese). ASA. 1 April 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  8. "Statistics in Airports" (PDF) (in Portuguese). ASA. 1 October 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  9. "Aeroporto da cidade da Praia via ser ampliado e modernizado com apodo do BAD". Expresso das Ilhas (in Portuguese).
  10. "Pista do Aeroporto da Praia vai aumentar para 2,6 km - PM de Cabo Verde" (in Portuguese). Papia Cabo Verde. 12 June 2014.
  11. 2017, UBM (UK) Ltd. "Binter Cabo Verde adds Sao Filipe service from April 2017". Retrieved 5 June 2017.

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