The Italian government is to lend Afghanistan €137 million to revamp and expand Herat Airport in Afghanistan, according to a statement released by the Afghan president’s office at the weekend.
The long-term loan will be used to build a new terminal and runways at the airport in Herat, Afghanistan's third-largest city. Details of the loan have not been revealed.
At a meeting with President Karzai on Saturday, Paolo Romani, former Italian Minister of Economic Development and the Ministry’s new envoy for Afghanistan and Iraq, unveiled the expansion plans for the gateway.
The Afghan President thanked Italy for its contributions towards the country's development, and instructed the Acting Minister of Transport & Civil Aviation to share the plans at the next cabinet meeting.
The statement said: “Italy has pledged €137 million as a long-term loan for the expansion of the airport, the second largest after Kabul, to also include building a modern terminal with all required facilities to actively function as an international airport.”
Reconstruction of Herat Airport has been ongoing for about two years with the intention to make it the second international airport in Afghanistan.
Funded by NATO, the gateway completed a runway extension earlier in the year, with the goal of improving its capacity.
Herat Governor, Daoud Saba, said: “I think the extension of this airport makes it a true runway to receive any variety of airplanes.
Economically, it saves a lot of money and culturally it’s a milestone for making Herat one of the hubs of development in the country.
“We hope that in the future Herat airport will serve as a hub for cargo in Afghanistan for its access to southern, northern and central provinces of the country.”