The sky is the limit

With the Middle East's air traffic growing way above the global average, and with the vast wealth at their disposal, airport projects in GCC cities are booming. Hugo Berger finds out more.

ANALYSIS, Projects

Abu Dhabi International, Airport (AUH), UAE

Last year the airport announced a massive US $7 billion (AED 25.7 billion) expansion plan.

The scheme includes building two new terminals, a second runway, an air traffic control complex, cargo terminal and a free trade zone.

Work on one of the terminals will begin later this year and the other one will be started in 2010.

The terminals are being built by Al Habtoor Engineering and Murray & Roberts as a joint venture.

The project aims to increase the capacity of the airport from seven million to 20 million passengers per year.

The project will provide a home base for the UAE's national carrier, Etihad Airways.

The company has identified air freight transport as a growth area and hopes to increase capacity to two million tonnes of freight a year.

Among other aspects of the project which have been completed recently are the design of remote aircraft stands complete with airfield ground lighting and hydrant fuel.

Ajman Airport, UAE

Last month, the smallest Emirate jumped on the airport bandwagon by announcing plans to build its own airport.

The $3.27 billion project, which will be built on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) scheme, will feature passenger, cargo, commercial and residential areas.

Although not as large as its neighbours, the Emirate is experiencing a construction boom, which could lead to an increase in visitor numbers.

Ajman International Airport is expected to attract two million passengers per year.

Construction is due to start in the second half of 2008 in the Al Manama area of Ajman, and the project is due to be completed by 2011.

The airport, which will be built over six million m2, will be operated by ICTC, which runs 20 airports around the world.

Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Amman, Jordan

In November last year, a $675 million plan to build a new terminal at the airport reached
financial close.

The project is being developed on a build, operate, transfer (BOT) 25-year contract for rehabilitation, expansion and operation.

The $600 million terminal is being designed by the renowned Foster and Partners architects.

Construction of the new terminal, part of the Kingdom's bid to become a regional financial, trade and transport hub is scheduled to be completed by 2010.

It will increase the airport's passenger flow from the current 3.2 million a year to nine million.

This figure is expected to rise to 12.8 million passengers a year by 2030.

Six consortiums have bid to build the new terminal, with the winner expected to be announced in early February.

And only last week, the Jordanian government announced plans to establish a new airport near the Al Karama border stations with Iraq.

Muscat International Airport (MCT), Muscat, Oman

The Sultanate of Oman is backing a huge expansion of airports in the country, with Muscat International being the centrepiece.

A giant new terminal is being planned at the airport, which changed its name from Seeb International Airport at the start of 2008.

The scheme was announced by the government in 2005 and the contract was awarded to ADP1 and National Engineering Services Pakistan & Partners (NESPAK).

The terminal, which is due to be completed by 2011, will have the capacity to handle 12 million passengers per year.

As well as a new terminal, the project will include a second runway, control tower, cargo terminal with capacity of 200,000 tonnes of cargo, and VIP area.

Tenders for the new runway will be invited during the first part of this year.

A second phase, due to be completed by 2050, will see shopping arcades, restaurants, cafes, and a 40-room hotel.

There are also plans to build a new terminal at Salalah International Airport.

And only last week, the government announced plans to build three new domestic airports to help boost tourism.

Six new airports will be built in across the country - in the towns of Sohar, Al Duqm, Ras Al Had, Adam, Haima and Shaleem.

The government has allocated US $43.86 million for consultancy studies, design and supervision of the proposed airports.

Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Kuwait

The government is spending more than $2 billion on a major expansion plan for its international airport.

Constructed more than 30 years ago, the current airport handles around five million passengers a year.

The expansion plan will see this capacity figure double.

The project includes infrastructure work, a new terminal, a new runway and expansion of the existing two runways.

Al Maktoum Airport (JBX), Dubai, UAE

Plans to create the new airport are central to Dubai's vision of creating a world-class futuristic city.

When finished the US $8.2 billion (AED 30 billion) development will be the world's largest airport - carrying almost twice as many passengers as London's Heathrow and Chicago's O'Hare.

JXB is expected to take its first flight in 2009 and be at full capacity by 2015.

Work has already finished on the first runway, which was built by Al Naboodah. At a cost of US $272 million and 4.5km-long and 50m-wide, it is the first of the proposed six runways.

JXB will also have two giant terminals and six concourses to handle the expected 120 million passengers annually.

But the project, named Dubai World Central, will also include developments such as Dubai Logistics City (DLC), DWC Commercial City, DWC Residential City, DWC Golf City and DWC Aviation City.

A number of key contracts for the build have already been awarded.

Arabtec and Max Boegl have won the $76 million contract to build the cargo terminal and the $39 million air traffic control tower; while Thermo/Amak has won the $39 million fuel farms contract and Park Air Systems and Thales will build the $33 million navigational aids package.

King Abdul Aziz International Airport (JED), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's main airport is undergoing an expansion programme to cope with the huge numbers of people visiting the kingdom.

The project, which will cost more than $1.5 billion, has been divided into three phases that should be finished by 2035.

The first phase will stretch over five years, and is being led by GACA and Dar Al-Handash as construction manager.

When all phases are complete airport will be able to cope with 80 million passengers a year.

The first phase will increase capacity from 13 million at present to 30 million.

It will include new security and safety systems, and a transport centre with rail links to the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah.

The airport needs to increase its size to cope with the huge number of worshippers who fly into Jeddah for the Hajj pilgrimage.

The overall project includes two new terminals, one for international and one for domestic passengers, and extension of the existing southern terminal, for international and VIP use, with passageways connecting the terminals

In addition, there will be a new concourse with 25 gates, three connector buildings and an extensive upgrade of landside and airside infrastructure facilities.

New Doha International Airport (NDIA), Doha, Qatar

The project is slated to replace the old Doha facility as Qatar's only airport in 2009.

Construction began in 2004 after the old airport was deemed unable to cope with the GCC country's ever-growing amount of air traffic.

The airport will become operational in 2009 after the first two phases are complete, while a third phase is due for completion in 2015.

From 2009, NDIA will be able to cope with 24 million passengers a year, three times as many as the present capacity.

When totally finished, every year the airport will be able to handle 50 million passengers, 320,000 aircraft movements and two million tonnes of cargo.

The main developer of the project is Bechtel, while 32 contract packages have been awarded to various firms.

One of the major challenges facing the construction workers was the fact that most of the airport is being built on top of a landfill site.

The waste material has been moved to a nearby site.

The new airport will be based on an oasis theme, with waved roofs and desert plants.

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