TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia’s Ministry of Transportation on Tuesday proposed building a new airport, doubling its capacity to 5.8 million passengers a year and allowing flights to be made from several European nations including France and Germany.
The proposal, made public by Transport Minister Mahmoud Drouk, would also extend Tunisian airspace to the eastern coast of Africa, bringing it within sight of France, Germany and other European countries.
It is one of the biggest airport expansion projects in the Arab world, with several European countries already taking part.
The new terminal would be the largest in Tunisia and the third-biggest airport in the world.
The project has sparked anger in Tunisia, where opposition groups say the plan is part of a Western plan to undermine Tunisia’s independence and sovereignty and to undermine the country’s economy.
The government has denied the plan was linked to Western pressure.
“The plan was approved unanimously by all stakeholders, including the international community, to avoid duplication of effort,” a ministry statement said.
The plan includes new air and sea links between Tunis and the Mediterranean Sea, along with the creation of a national airline.
The ministry also plans to build a railway station and a new highway to connect the city of Damietta to the nearby port of Gafsa.
The country has about 6.5 million people, most of whom are migrants.
It has been struggling to build its economy since the 2011 revolution overthrew long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.