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Green light for Bahrain airport expansion

The Bahraini government has approved the first phase of the expansion of the island kingdom’s international airport.

The Bahraini government has approved the first phase of the expansion of the island kingdom’s international airport. The US $100 million project will raise the annual capacity of the airport to 12/15 million passengers per year from its present level of 10 million. However, the full three-phase project will raise this figure to 45 million per year.

Phase one of the project includes expanding the eastern side of the terminal by 40,000 m2 and adding eight more airbridges, which will raise the total number to 15. Two of the new positions will be designed to hold A380s, and they will be served by dedicated holding lounges and double-decked airbridges. The first phase also includes the construction of seven remote parking stands, new passenger facilities and a car park expansion.

“The final choice of the design consultants, to complete the detailed design, will be made in the coming weeks and the formal appointment will be made shortly afterwards,” said David Ryan, director of marketing & promotion, Bahrain Civil Aviation Affairs. “The appointment of the construction company is expected to be made in late 2006 with construction commencing before year’s end.”

Bahrain International is being expanded following a steady increase in passenger numbers. The latest figures available show that the airport handled 3,111,578 passengers in the first seven months of this year, a 6.8% increase on the same period in 2004. The airport showed even stronger growth in the 12 months ending 31st July, with passenger numbers climbing 10.7% to 5,341,519. Further growth is expected from the general economic boom in the region, and from the fact that Gulf Air is likely to shift more services to Bahrain following Abu Dhabi’s pull-out from the carrier.

The $100 million second phase of the expansion project will develop the western side of the existing terminal, adding another five or six airbridges. It will begin immediately after the first stage is completed. Construction of a new $5 million air traffic control tower, which will be operational by the end of this year, has already finished.

Plans are also being drawn up to develop the airport’s cargo facilities, which are already home to Gulf Air Cargo and DHL’s regional hub. The main area of focus will be developing a cargo/logistics zone on the northern side of the airport, probably with dedicated freighter parking aprons and facilities. This site would also be less than 5 km from the huge Sheikh Khalifa seaport, which is currently under development.

“An extensive master planning exercise is scheduled to get underway in the coming two months,” said Ryan. “We have [also] invited proposals from a number of international consultants, and expect to make the final choice shortly.”

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