The UK Defence Infrastructure Organisation and UK Strategic Command (UKStratCom) have awarded a £66m contract for the construction of a new Passenger Handling Facility at RAF Akrotiri, the Ministry of Defence announced 10 July.

RAF Akrotiri is an important military base which has supported a huge variety of operations including the recent evacuation of British nationals from Sudan. The construction will include a new terminal and freight buildings, known as the Passenger and Freight Handling Facility.

Cyprus Service Provider has begun a joint programme with UK-based design partner Ridge and Partners LLP to develop a full design for the facilities at RAF Akrotiri, with materials and equipment will be sourced from the UK market.

“RAF Akrotiri is an incredibly busy overseas base, supporting operations in the region and beyond – including the recent evacuation from Sudan,” said James Cartlidge, Minister for Defence Procurement, “and this £66m ($84.5m) investment will significantly improve these facilities for our personnel and their families.”

RAF Akrotiri design

The current Passenger Handling Facility at RAF Akrotiri was built in the 1960s and is no longer large enough to accommodate the number of people transported on modern RAF passenger aircraft. The current facility was designed for VC-10 aircraft, which carried 131 passengers, but their replacement, RAF Voyagers, carry 291 passengers and 14 crew, resulting in frequently crowded departure and arrival lounges.

Unlike the current Passenger Handling Facility, the new Passenger Handling Facility will include a basic aeromedical facility where patients can be held while waiting for their next flight. RAF Akrotiri is being designed to use as little energy as possible, with features such as solar control glazing and intelligent lighting controls, and it will be powered by solar PV renewable energy. Other environmentally friendly features of the design include infrastructure for charging electric vehicles, rainwater harvesting, and the use of sustainable urban drainage systems in the parking area.

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Because the island is in an earthquake zone, the programme will also be replacing or strengthening non-seismic buildings.

Construction outlook

“I am delighted that this project is now moving into the construction phase and would like to thank all those involved for their hard work in getting us to this point,” said Tracey Fuoco, Apollo Programme Director for the UK Strategic Command Infrastructure team. She added that this project is part of the larger APOLLO Programme of work to update the estate for service personnel and their families who live and work in Cyprus.

Construction is expected to begin later this year, with the new facility scheduled to open in late 2026 and the existing building demolished the following year.

The MoD opened a newly renovated runway at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus in 2017 as part of a £46m upgrade project, completed by the DIO within 21 months.

Mike Penning, the Minister for the Armed Forces at the time, said this project at RAF Akrotiri had “taken a tired and battered runway and transformed it into a modern, safe, 21st century facility, capable of supporting operations for the next 20 years and beyond.”