Morocco’s aviation authority Office National des Aeroports (Onda) will invite consultants to bid for the design of the expansion of Marrakech International airport by June 2010.

The current capacity of Marrakech airport is 4.5 million passengers a year but Onda plans to more than double this to reach 10 million annual passengers by 2013, a source closely involved in the project tells MEED.

Onda is currently finalising plans for the expansion and expects to invite consultants to bid for the design contract by June.

If the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract is awarded later this year as planned, construction work including the expansion of the existing passenger terminals and extension of berths will begin in early 2011, according to the source.

The berths will be able to accommodate the Airbus A380 aircraft when complete.

The expansion of Marrakech International airport is being planned to cope with the projected increase in tourism in the country.

In 2009, about 8.3 million foreign passengers passed through Morocco’s airports, a five per cent increase compared to 2008.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) predicts that Morocco will see a 6.8 per cent increase in passenger traffic between 2010 and 2013.