Kingdom plans to build airports across the Kingdom in the coming years
Under the “unified design” project, new airports will be built and existing ones will be developed. The move is part of a larger plan to turn the country into a regional aviation and logistics hub
While two new domestic airports will come up in Farasan Island, Al-Qunfudah, 10 that are already operational – including those in Najran, Jouf, Qrayat, Qaysouma, Baha, Tareef, Rafha, Shroura, Al Wajh and Wadi Al Dawaser – will undergo refurbishment
Plans are afoot to develop four terminals at King Khaled airport terminals in Riyadh at a cost of $560 million, while a $670-million project will ensure the development of the new King Abdullah International Airport in Jazan, as well as the airports in Tabouk and Arar
New Jeddah Airport considered a cornerstone in transforming Saudi Arabia into an international aviation hub
RIYADH, July 3 (CIC) – King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, which opened to commercial flights as part of its experimental operations, is the first of the many airports to be opened or built in the country over coming years. The airport will play a strategic role in transforming the Kingdom into an international aviation and logistics hub when it becomes fully operational next year.
The airport’s soft launch, which started April, will be completed in three phases to ensure smooth operations after the final launch. The cost of the first phase stood at $10.1 billion.The uniquely-designed airport that occupies a 105-square-kilometre area will have modern lounges and latest facilities. It will also have latest and advanced electronic and mechanical equipment. In the first phase of its operation, 30 million passengers will be served per year. In the second and third phases, the passenger capacity will rise to 55 and 100 million respectively.
In the soft opening phase, six gates will handle a limited number of flights. The number of gates will gradually increase to 46 after the formal opening of the airport.
A new terminal complex to serve all carriers was will be built over an 810,000-square-metre area. The facility, which will cater to both domestic and international passengers, will include passenger lounges, electrical and mechanical systems and extension, a new concourse building with 94 passenger bridges and connector buildings linking the terminals, air bridges and movable gates and apron and taxiway extensions. It will have the ability to serve 74 aircraft at a time. The smart, environment-friendly airport will also be one of the largest in the Middle East upon completion, generating thousands of jobs for citizens.
Dr Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi, Minister of Transport, said that the new airport would be one of the main aviation hubs in the region. The airport will handle 30 million passengers per year after it opens next year. Dr Al-Amoudi said that the opening of KKIA signified “a qualitative leap in the transport system of Saudi Arabia in general and Mecca province in particular, commensurate with the leading position the Kingdom at the Islamic and international levels.”
A strategic role
Calling the opening of the project “a major milestone for Saudi Arabai,” Abdulhakim bin Muhammad Al-Tamimi, President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, said: “The new airport will help meet the goals of Vision 2030 to support and drive the Kingdom’s economic development.”
He said that the airport would enable the Kingdom to play a greater role as a regional hub for transport and logistical services and support the growing number of pilgrims. Ultimately it would “project the ambitions of the Kingdom to the world”, he said.
Dr Al-Amoudi has revealed earlier year that the kingdom was planning to become an international logistics hub that would link three continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa – by a sophisticated network of land, maritime and air transport. According to Dr Al-Amoudi, the plan will boost the growth of the non-oil sector by 5%, and will increase job openings in the transport sector by 4% by 2021.
Jeddah is a major destination for millions of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims each year. The new airport will play a crucial role in serving the ever-growing number of pilgrims. The airport is part of mega transport project in the area that includes the development of railway and modern road systems.
Preparing for the future
According to the Ministry of transport, about 92 million passengers used the Kingdom’s airports in 2017, registering a 7.7 % growth in passenger traffic over the previous year. The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has big plans for the sector, including privatisation of all the airports. The ultimate objective is to allow private companies to run all airports and special controls over their operations.. The authority will hasten the privatisation process to comply with the Vision 2030 goals of generating employment for the youth and strengthening the economy.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom has undertaken two airport projects in Qassim and Hail, as well as the development of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh into a smart airport. Eventually, all airports will be turned into smart airports. Last year, many contracts were awarded for the development of new airports, in collaboration with the private sector on a BTO basis. The same procedure was followed for other airports to be built in Qassim, Hail and Yanbu, all of which are expected to be ready by 2020.
Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina has become the first airport in the Kingdom to be built under a public-private partnership.
GACA last year expressed its intention to upgrade the regional airports to serve international flights. This move will raise the total number of international airports in the kingdom to 13, besides 13 domestic airports.
All these plans and moves are part of the Vision 2030 plan that seeks to turn the Kingdom into an unique regional logistical hub with large investments having been made in upgrading the aviation sector, as well as in constructing ports, railways and roads.
With a GDP of SAR 2.4 trillion, Saudi Arabia’s economy is already the largest in the Middle East. The kingdom seeks to establish new business partnerships and ensure a more efficient transportation of people and goods as well as a smoother inflow of capital. Aviation will play an essential role in the diversification and expansion of the Saudi economy.
Air travel is predicted to increase dramatically around the world in coming years. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted in 2015 that passenger demand worldwide would double to reach 7.2 billion in 2035.
Major international manufacturers are also preparing for the future. Airbus for example anticipates that it will need to deliver more than 2,500 aircraft in the Middle East alone in the next two decades, while Boeing expects to make 3,350 deliveries during the same period.