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Asia-Pacific Airports takes a closer look at how some of the Gulf region’s other airports are faring in terms of traffic growth and infrastructure development.

When we wrote about the massive amount of investment taking place in the Gulf region in 2010, we said that it was one of the hottest places on earth for airport development, and five years on nothing has changed.

At the time, an estimated $86 billion was being spent on or had been allocated for airport projects in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, with the most high profile projects being the creation of Doha’s Hamad International Airport and Dubai’s second gateway and the construction of Abu Dhabi’s new Midfield Terminal Building (MTB).

Other big planned developments at the time included the first phase construction of the New King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah; the upgrade of Kuwait International Airport; multi-million dollar enhancement of Bahrain International Airport; and the expansion of Muscat International Airport.

Five years on then and it’s probably time for an update as well as learning a little more about Sharjah International Airport’s plans to upgrade its facilities.

Doha’s new $15.5 billion Hamad International Airport opened in April 2014, of course, and boasts an iconic 600,000sqm terminal building with an initial capacity of 30mppa.

Its host of facilities include 138 check-in counters, 16 lounges, a five-star transit hotel, a luxury spa, squash courts, a four-storey catering facility and a mosque able to accommodate up to 500 worshippers.

Hamad also has 25,000 square metres of commercial offerings provided by Qatar Duty Free and its partners, housing more than 70 retail outlets and more than 30 F&B units.

Traffic is also on the rise, reaching 26.3 million (+13%) in 2014, which Hamad’s chief operating officer, Badr Al-Meer largely attributes to the move to the new airport and its “world-class” facilties.

The first phase construction of Jeddah’s New King Abdulaziz International Airport is 80% complete and the gateway will open for commercial operations in mid-2017, according to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).

The first phase of the three-stage development will raise the airport’s capacity from 17mppa to 30mppa and allow all airlines to be handled under the same roof for the
first time.

Upon opening, the airport’s 720,000sqm terminal will have 46 gates and facilities that will introduce new levels of comfort and convenience for passengers, says GACA.

They include five lounges for first and business class passengers; nearly 28,000sqm of retail/F&B space; and a mosque capable of holding 3,000 worshippers.

A 120-room, four-star hotel for transit passengers; new ground transportation centre and railway station; and short and long-term car parking facilities for 23,600 vehicles are also part of the first phase development programme.

Second and third phase expansion projects, driven by demand, are designed to raise the new airport’s capacity to 55mppa and eventually 80mppa.  

Muscat International Airport in Oman is undergoing a major expansion programme that includes the addition of a new airfield, 12mppa capacity passenger terminal, office buildings, four-star hotel and parking garages.

Samer Al Nabhani, general manager for commercial development at Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC), tells Asia-Pacific Airports magazine that he is expecting the new capacity enhancing 345,000sqm terminal to elevate service standards to another level.

He says: “The new airport is set to open in the next few years, will be able to handle up to 48 million passengers [at full build out] and offer a huge range of services in a modern, state of the art facility. 

“It will open doors for more business opportunities, provide additional capacity for our passengers and act as a catalyst for route development.” 

With forecasts predicting that passenger numbers will rise by around 10% per annum for at least the next three years, Bahrain Airport has taken the huge decision to invest $1 billion on upgrading its facilities to ensure that it is more than capable of meeting future demand.

The key project on the agenda is a new terminal which will raise the airport’s capacity to 14mppa, although it will initially be equipped to accommodate up to 12mppa when opens in late 2018.

According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the design of Kuwait International Airport’s new terminal will be “rooted in a sense of place, responsive to the climate of one of the hottest inhabited environments on earth and inspired by local forms and materials”.

The ever-ambitious DGCA is targeting LEED Gold certification for the terminal, which will have an initial capacity of 13mppa but be capable of being expanded in the future to handle up to 50mppa.

The complex will have a trefoil design and feature three 1.2 kilometre-long concourses that will initially be equipped with between 30 and 51 contact stands.

GACA states on its website that the aim of the project is to significantly increase the capacity of the airport and establish a new regional air hub in the Gulf. 

It says: “The project’s strategic aims will be matched by a state-of-the-art terminal building, which will provide the highest levels of comfort for passengers and will set a new environmental benchmark for airport buildings.”

In the UAE, Sharjah International Airport is working on a master plan that will equip it to handle traffic demand for the next 20 years and beyond.

A total of 9.5 million passengers passed through the airport in 2014, and it predicts that this will rise to more than 15 million passengers over the next 10 years, so new capacity enhancing facilities are very much a priority.

Asia-Pacific Airports will bring you more details about the goals of the master plan and ambitions of Sharjah Airport next year.

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