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Major expansion planned for Saudi airports

Three airports in Saudi Arabia are to be expanded at a cost of US$8 billion to enable them to cope with the growing number of passengers and the requirements of two private domestic airlines.

Three airports in Saudi Arabia are to be expanded at a cost of US$8 billion to enable them to cope with the growing number of passengers and the requirements of two private domestic airlines.

The expansion projects, which will affect the Jeddah, Madinah and Tabuk airports, are a result of the rapid growth in the region’s aviation industry, according to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA).

Khaled Al Mulhim, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, said that the Kingdom’s airports have the capacity to accommodate two private airlines, which are to operate domestic flights and will likely begin operation by the end of this year.

“The projects will enable these airports to cope with fast developments taking place in the aviation industry and enhance their capabilities to serve as a major hub in the region,” he added.

The expansion of Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport (KAIA) is designed to accommodate the world’s largest aircraft, the A380, and will increase the airport’s annual capacity to 21 million passengers at a cost of $1.5 billion.

The expansion involves the construction of two new terminals and renovation of the existing south terminal, a new concourse with 25 gates, three connector buildings and an extensive upgrade of landside and airside infrastructure facilities.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, announced plans in June to convert Prince Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz Airport in Madinah into an international airport, and Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defence and aviation, said the airport would reduce the pressure on Jeddah’s KAIA.

Prince Sultan has instructed the head of civil aviation to speed up Madinah airport’s expansion in order to make it an international airport as soon as possible. The Crown Prince has already permitted some foreign airlines to bring pilgrims directly to Madinah.

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