Top 10 airports under construction in the GCC


Daria El Samad , April 26th, 2014

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To meet the demands of travellers and expanding airlines, Gulf states are pumping billions of dollars into building new airports or expanding the existing facilities.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) noted that “about $40bn is being invested in airport infrastructure in the Arabian Gulf alone by far-sighted” governments. It forecasts that by the year 2017 the total passenger numbers are expected to rise to 3.91bn.

The UAE leads the way with a combined $18.8bn in construction and expansion plans, with $15.9bn pumped into Dubai alone.

While Qatar is investing a massive $15.5bn in its airport in Doha that is set to open on 27 May.

Elsewhere in the GCC, Saudi Arabia is aiming for a combined future capacity of 140mn passengers per year by expanding its three major airports in Damman, Jeddah and Riyadh.


Hamad International Airport

Estimated value: $15.5bn
Expected date of completion: 2014

Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport (HIA) will open to all airlines, including the country’s national carrier, on May 27.

The $15.5bn planned hub for Qatar Airways has missed a series of launch dates, including the end of 2012, 1 April 2013 and the end of last year.

Due to increased transit growth in Qatar and the region in the past few years, modifications were necessary to deliver an airport with a capacity of 30 million on opening day.

In its opening configuration, the terminal has three concourses and 33 contact gates, increasing to five concourses and 65 contact gates, including eight for the A380 in the final build-out.

The main contractor responsible for delivering the $15.5bn airport project is Bechtel.

Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport

Estimated value: $8.1bn
Expected date of completion:

Eight airlines will be diverted to the airport starting May 1.

The airport once completed will have the capacity to handle 12 million tonnes of annual cargo capacity and 160 million passengers.

The first phase of the Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport is completed and fully operational. The airport currently has the capacity to handle 600,000 tonnes per annum and operates 24 hours a day on an A380-compatible, 4.5 km runway.

Phase 2 of the airport, which includes the construction of an additional two automated and non-automated cargo terminals, is currently under way. This is expected to increase the total cargo capacity of the airport to 1.4 million tonnes per annum.

Costs for the entire DWC development, including all clusters, has been estimated in excess of $32bn (AED120bn).


Dubai International Airport

Estimated value: $7.8bn
Expected date of completion: 2018

Dubai Airports announced a $7.8bn (AED28.8bn) airport and airspace expansion program which will boost capacity at Dubai International from 60mn to 90mn passengers per year by 2018.

The plan involves the construction of additional terminal space and concourse areas spanning an extra 675,000 sqm of floor space.

Cargo growth is expected to reach 4.1 million tonnes by 2020, up from 2.2mn tonnes in 2010.

King Abdul Aziz International Airport

Estimated value: $7.2bn
Expected date of completion: 2015

The $7.2bn project to expand King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah will include the world's biggest air traffic control tower once complete, standing at a height of 135m.

It will increase the airport's capacity to handle up to 32 million passengers a year through the building of a new 690,000m2 terminal.

Saudi BinLadin is responsible for delivering the two main phase one contracts, while the civil works contract is being delivered by Al Mabani General Contractors. A Saudi Oger/Murray & Roberts joint venture is responsible for delivering a new 4-lane road tunnel for ground service equipment, which will run underneath the airport's central runway.

The new terminal will also include an airside hotel and will include a transport hub linking to the new Haramain high-speed railway linking Makkah and Madinah.

In May, the governor of Makkah province, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal said that he expects building work to finish in 2014, but that the airport wouldn’t begin operations until 2015.

Kuwait International Airport

Estimated value: $6bn
Expected date of completion: 2016

The expansion at Kuwait International Airport, which is located in Farwaniyah, 16km south of Kuwait City, is expected to expand capacity from six million passengers a year to 20 million.

The expansion plans include a new $3bn terminal as well as an additional $3bn to be spent on widening runways, building a new control tower and establishing a cargo facility. The terminal will span a 5.4 kilometers-long runway.

The expected date of completion was set in 2016.

Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal Building

Estimated value: $2.9bn
Expected date of completion: 2017

Reaching 700,000 sqm in area, The Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal will be about one-and-a-half times bigger than Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport and also Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5.

Construction of the AED10.8bn ($2.9bn) terminal reached a major milestone in February, when senior executives said the first steel arch of the Midfield Terminal Building had been completed, marking the launch of the roof structure phase.

The terminal, which will be operational in July 2017, aims to double passenger capacity. Currently, the airport handles around 15 million passengers per year.

It is designed to boost the capacity of the airport to 30mn passengers annually and will be used by Etihad Airways, the oil-rich Emirate's flag carrier, and its partners.

The first arch that has been erected is one of the 18 arches to make up the steel primary structure for the MTB roof. By the end of 2014, all 18 arches will be completed and assembled.

Muscat International Airport

Estimated value: $1.2bn
Expected date of completion: 2016

The $1.3bn construction contract for the development of Muscat International Airport was awarded to Consolidated Contractors Co. (CCC) and Turkey’s TAV.

The contract involves the completion of new runway, taxi, taxiway system, aprons, roads, utility buildings and other civil works. Phase 2 includes the completion of all landside road system works, fuel farm and fuel hydrant system works.

The airport which currently handles about 6 million passengers per year, will have the capacity for 12 million passengers when the terminal is complete in 2016.

Prince Mohammad bin Abdelaziz Airport

Estimated value: $1.2bn
Expected date of completion: 2015

The first airport to be fully built in PPP, Prince Mohammed bin Abdelaziz airport expansion project has been mainly designed to help the region cater for the influx of Haj and Umrah pilgrims every year, as it will have a capacity to accommodate for 8 million passengers.

The construction agreement for the airport will be built in two phases on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis for a 25-year period.

Construction for the $1.2bn airport expansion was awarded to TAV Airports of Turkey, Saudi Oger Limited and AL Rajhi Holding Group.

Bahrain International Airport

Estimated value: $1bn
Expected date of completion: 2018

Bahrain’s International airport is set for an expansion that will boost capacity to 13.5 million passengers a year.

A contract to oversee the modernisation and expansion of Bahrain International Airport was awarded to Aéroports de Paris Ingénierie (ADPI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aéroports de Paris.

ADPI will design and supervise construction of a new passenger terminal of more than 150,000m2, with work beginning later this year. The facility is expected to be completed by late 2018.

Sohar airport

Sohar Airport, about 10km northwest of Sohar will help avoid the two hour long drive from either Muscat or Dubai. When operational, the airport will also serve as an alternative to Muscat International Airport. The facility will support the growth of cargo, courier and passenger traffic across northern Oman.

Sohar airport is expected to handle 250,000 passengers per year and there will be stands for two aircraft at the airport. The airport will be able to handle up to 50,000 tonnes of cargo per year.

Contracts for the initial site preparation, or Phase 1, were let in 2009 to Strabag Oman. The company also secured Phase 2 work, which includes the construction of the new 4km-long runway and installation of aircraft landing instruments.

In March, seven local and international construction firms were bidding to win the contract for Package-3 (building works) of the new Sohar regional airport.

The companies that submitted technical offers are Carillion Alawi, Larsen & Toubro (Oman), Strabag Oman, Al Turki Enterprises, Galfar Engineering and Contracting Co, Oman Shapoorji Construction Co and Joannou and Paraskevaides Oman.

Package-3 includes the construction of a passenger terminal building, cargo terminal and other buildings related to the airport.


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