The first phase of rehabilitation and expansion works to transform the Tamale Airport into an international one is expected to be completed by December, three months later than initially planned due to technical challenges.The first phase of the project consists of extending the runway from the current 2,480 metres to about 3,940 metres, and the installation of a complete lighting system to accommodate bigger aircraft so as to serve as the country’s second international airport.It is supposed to serve as an alternative to the Kotoka International Airport (KIA). The project is being undertaken by Brazilian company Geiroz Galvao Construction -- the same company working on the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra -- with funding from the Brazilian government.A visit by the sector minister Dzifa Attivor revealed that work on the runway has delayed due to deposits of clay soil discovered by the contractors, which required a considerable amount of time to excavate.Mrs. Attivor paid a working visit to the Tamale Airport with management of the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) and other stakeholders in the sector this week.Mrs. Attivor said she expects the timelines for completion of the project to be met and enable Hajj pilgrims fly direct from Tamale so as to reduce cost.“I will not accept any additional cost because the project has already been revised for the final date scheduled,” she said.The minister encouraged people within the northern belt to tap into potentials of the north to transact business and improve their livelihoods, which will go a long way to reduce the poverty rate.Mr. Ruben Claudio O. Weto, Project manager Queiroz Galvao, said the first phase of the project was at its last stages but due to the technical hitch had to delay for a while. He noted that 90 percent of workers on-site are locals employed by the company to executive the project.He stressed that measures had been taken to ensure smooth operation of the domestic planes which have been helping to boost business in the region, as well as frustrate investors.Charles Kwame Asare, Managing Director Ghana Airport Company Limited, urged the contractor to speed-up work to meet the deadline -- and also ensure quality work for sustainability.He said improving the existing airport infrastructure is key to government, because it is the only means to attract more investors and boost the economy.He said Phase-two will involve the maintenance, repair and overhaul area within the hangar. According to the manager, the commencement date for Phase-two of the project will be announced in due courseHe said the aviation industry has maintained its fares though there has been an increase in fuel prices.