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Special report: Building the GCC's airports

Seven billion people will live one direct flight from the Middle East

The 27,000m2 transportation centre, the main connecting building for the new passenger terminal at the Jeddah airport, formwork by PERI
The 27,000m2 transportation centre, the main connecting building for the new passenger terminal at the Jeddah airport, formwork by PERI

Seven billion people will live one direct flight from the Middle East by 2025, according to a new report 'The World Via Gulf'.

The Gulf is fast becoming the centre of global aviation, with more than 85% of the world’s population within reach of a direct flight. Dubai is expected to overtake London’s Heathrow to become the world’s busiest airport by 2015.

GCC airports are expected to handle as many as 250 million passengers by 2020, with Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha leading the way.

By 2025 total aircraft movements in the region will reach 2.3 million, with an average annual growth rate of 7.6%.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation predicts air traffic in the region will grow 5.2% every year until 2030.

In preparation for the surge in passenger traffic, Middle East airlines are expected to increase their capacity by 12.8% this year, says the report. They are also investing heavily in new aircraft, holding one-third of the global orders for Boeing 777 and Airbus A380. Emirates already has the world’s largest Airbus A380 fleet.

The expansion also is projected to create 294,000 jobs in the next 15 years, while its contribution to GDP will increase by 6.3% annually in real terms over the next 20 years, according to Oxford Economics. The Middle East aviation industry contributed $129 billion to the region’s GDP, with the UAE alone accounting for $39.5 billion.

Across the Gulf region airports are being transformed at an unprecendented rate and Construction Week looks at the major expansions.

Dubai International Airport (DXB)
Since the completion in 2008 of Terminal 3, the largest single terminal building in the world at 1,500,000m2 Dubai International Airport can cope with up to 75 million passengers.

In 2012 passenger numbers hit 57 million, more than double the 24.8 million of 2005, and the airport now ranks second globally for international passengers and cargo.

"The original plan was to stop developing Dubai International and invest in Dubai World Central (DWC),” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

Dubai world Central is the fast developing freight facility at Jebel Ali (see page 45).
"The pace of growth has made that plan unviable because demand is outstripping supply, so the decision was made to continue work at DXB and DWC.”

With the arrival of the Airbus A380, the airport has also put in place modifications works costing $230m, including the building of 29 gates capable of handling the large aircraft. The dedicated Concourse 3, or A, was completed by ALEC in December 2012 for operations in January.

The 650m-long structure is 90m wide with a total floorspace of 530,000m2 across 11 stories.
The ongoing phase two expansion of the airport includes the $150m upgrade of Terminal 2 by Arabtec to bring the total capacity at DXB up to 80 million passengers.

The 200m-long and 90m-wide new main hall will increase the terminal area to nearly 60,000m2, while a Cargo Mega Terminal, with a handling capacity 1.23 million tonnes of cargo a year, is expected to be completed in 2018.

The final phase of the expansion, involving a fourth Concourse ‘D’, will deliver a further 18 gates. “This expansion will also allow Emirates to occupy Concourses A, B and C as they continue their expansion,” highlighted Griffiths. The budget for DXB projects from now until 2020 stands at $7.8bn.

In numbers:
- $7.8bn Cost of programme
- 90million Anuual passenger capacity by 2018
- 675,000m² Additional terminal and concourse space
- 4.1 million Growth in cargo tonnage by 2020
- 30,000m² Area of cargo mega terminal expansion
- 32% Expected GDP contribution (22% employment) by 2025

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
Ambitious plans for Abu Dhabi’s own international airport began in earnest in June 2012, with the signing of the contract for the Midfield Terminal Project with an equal partnership consortium between TAV Construction, CCC (Consolidated Contractors International) and Arabtec Construction. The contract is the largest single undertaking in aviation history, with a total value just shy of $3bn.

The 750-hectare terminal building is scheduled to open during 2017. It will handle more than 30 million passengers and have piers for 65 aircraft, including Airbus A380s. Its facilities will include more than 27,499m2 of airline hospitality lounges, a transit hotel and a heritage and culture museum.

Tony Douglas, formerly the CEO of London Heathrow during the delivery of Terminal 5, has been appointed as CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) to lead the development. He noted: “This represents a challenge on a truly global scale with an opportunity to deliver one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects worldwide.”

In August 2012, Aecom was further awarded an $85m contract for the construction management of the terminal, and associated airside and landside infrastructure.

Specialist Malaysian contractor Eversendai Engineering secured a $107.8m contract to undertake the terminal’s structural steel works, by 2015.

In total, 70,000 tonnes of steel and nearly 500,000m2 of steel and glass cladding will be used in the terminal building.

Hamad International Airport (HIA)
The first phase of Hamad International Airport is due to open during in Q3, 2013. It covers 3,500 hectares and will handle 28 million passengers annually, three times the Doha’s current airport capacity. It will be able to handle 320,000 aircraft movements, conveying 50 million passengers a year as well as two million tonnes of cargo.

The main terminal spans 600,000m2, and will include 41 contact gates and 20 remote-stand gates. The main design, construction management and project management contract was awarded to Bechtel in 2004. Architectural firm HOK then assisted in the design of the passenger terminal, while construction of concourses one and two has been handled by TAV Construction and Japan’s Taisei.

Work involved a massive land reclamation project of 2,820 hectares, and more than 62 million m3 of 'fill' to be completed. It also required 13km of seawall to protect the construction. The airport features two of the longest commercial runways in the world, located two kilometers from each other and designed for simultaneous take-offs and landings.

The first is 4,850m long while the second parallel runway is 4,250m.

The airport also features 17km of roads, three dedicated interchanges, an 85m-high control tower, a 150,000m² aircraft maintenance centre, A five-star luxury hotel and a three-star transit hotel are also included in the plan, all with an oasis theme, with wave-styled roofs and desert plants grown in recycled water.

Hamad International Airport, Doha
The new terminal is designed to handle nearly 12 million passengers in phase one. The airport will be developed in three phases. There is a separate terminal for the Emir of Qatar and another general aviation terminal, a 510,000m2 passenger terminal with 40 gates and one cargo terminal. It includes one of the world’s largest airport catering facilities.

Total construction comprises around 18 packages. The project is expected to be completed by the second half of 2013 and will be operated by Qatar Airways.

PERI has undertaken part of the above mentioned packages by supplying formwork systems and solutions to meet each package.

King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA)
Located 19km north of Jeddah and named after King Abdulaziz Al Saud, King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) is Saudi Arabia’s busiest, but only the third largest airport facility.

Completed in 1981, it today handles 18 million passengers annually, the majority through the acclaimed 465,000m2 Hajj terminal, designed by Bangladeshi Eng. Fazlur Rahman Khan, of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), and engineered by Horst Berger while at Geiger Berger Associates.

The first half of the terminal contains air conditioned buildings; the second half is a vast, open-sided temperate waiting and support area. The tent-like roof structure consists of 10 modules of 21 semi-conical Teflon-coated fiberglass roof units, each module supported by 147-foot tall steel cables along the rooftop.

The structure can shelter up to 80,000 pilgrims at a time, and has seen more than 40 million over the course of the annual pilgrimage.

Redevelopment began in 2006 and is taking place in three stages, scheduled for completion by 2035, when ultimate capacity will reach 80 million annual passengers. The kingdom’s largest contractor, Saudi Binladin Group, secured two of the largest contracts on the project in February 2011 by producing the lowest bids: $3bn for a 67-hectare terminal and $3.7bn for the infrastructure.

The first phase will increase capacity to 30 million, and includes renovation of the existing two terminals, runway upgrades, 94 aircraft bays including those with systems for the Airbus A380, and a dedicated railway station on the high-speed rail serving Makkah and Madinah.

In July 2012, Hill International won the contract to project manage the total $7.2bn programme. In Feb 2013, in one of the first large supply deals, Perma-Pipe also secured a $27m contract to provide district cooling.

King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah
The new 640,000m2 passenger terminal will increase capacity of the airport from 17million to 30million.

A 27,000m2 Transportation Centre will serve as the main connecting building for all the passenger terminalfacilities. Maytas Infra Saudi Arabia, the sub-contractor for the project used PERI’s formwork solutions and expects to finish this m,onth – six months before the original completion date. "Our foprmwork solutions are being deployed across the site," said a PERI's spokesman.

A world interchange
Dubai International and Abu Dhabi International Airport begun 2013 exactly where they left off in 2012: with increasing passenger numbers.

At Dubai, numbers continued to soar in February with 5.08 million customers passing through the facility up 11.4 per cent from the same period in 2012, according to the most up to date monthly traffic report issued by Dubai Airports.

Passenger traffic totalled 5,080,360m in February up from 4,561,147m recorded during the same month in 2012. Year to date, passenger numbers are up 13% to 10,640,120m from 9,413,286m recorded during the same period last year. Aircraft movements reached 28,085 in February, climbing 3.8% from the 27,058 recorded in February 2012.

Regionally, Eastern Europe was the fastest-expanding market in terms of percentage growth (+29.6%) driven by new services to Poland (Emirates) and Macedonia (flydubai), followed by Asia Pacific (+21.8%), Russia & CIS (+18.5%), AGCC (16.5%) and Asia (15%) thanks primarily to the additional Emirates daily service to Manila. The Middle East was the only region to record fewer travellers with a slight year-on-year drop of 1.6%.

Freight volumes continued their resurgence in February, rising 15.9% to 182,580 tonnes, up from 157,492 the previous year .

Year to date cargo volumes are up 12.1% to 370,099 tonnes compared to 331,023 tonnes during the same period last year.

“We continue to stay ahead of the curve in terms of our traffic forecast of 65.4 million
passengers in 2013,” said CEO Paul Griffiths.

“We are also on track in terms of introducing capacity to meet demand. Concourse A is fully online and setting new standards for A380 service.

Additionally, the expansion of Terminal 2 is proceeding on plan as is the upgrade of Terminal
1 and the construction of Concourse D. All three projects are integral elements of our $7.8 billion airport strategic plan to boost capacity and augment service levels over the next several years.”

Abu Dhabi International Airport’s traffic report for February 2013 highlighted a 13.1% growth in passenger traffic over the same period last year, with 1,221,686 passengers passing through the airport.

Aircraft movements in February also grew by 7.5% over the same period last year, totalling 9,960 movements, and cargo volume increased by 16.7%, reaching 50,020 tonnes.
Eng. Ahmad Al Haddabi, CEO at Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), said: “The significant increase in passengers, aircraft and cargo volumes is in-line with the anticipated growth trend for Abu Dhabi International Airport.”

India recorded the highest traffic for the Capital’s airport in February 2013, with traffic growing by 9.1% over the same period last year, followed by Germany, then Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Al Maktoum International Airport
Dubai World Central will open its doors to passengers on 27 October, 2013 when launch carriers nasair and Wizz Air commence operations into Dubai’s second airport.

nasair plans to operate over 50 flights per week between Dubai and a number of destinations in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-based carrier already operates 950 weekly flights to 28 destinations with a fleet of 21 aircraft comprised of Airbus A320s and Embraer E190s.

Wizz Air, which provides low-cost air transport across 30 countries with 16 bases across Europe, will provide non-stop services linking Dubai World Central to Central and Eastern Europe. Wizz Air has a fleet of 40 Airbus A320 aircraft operating over 1,500 weekly flights to 93 destinations.

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. Facilities include 64 aircraft stands (10 of which are Code F), a state-of-the-art ATC Tower, fire stations, line maintenance services, a fuel farm and a 66,000m2, single-level passenger terminal.

It has a total of 36 freight operators (scheduled and chartered) signed up and operating. handled 219,092 tonnes of air freight during 2012 – its second full calendar year of operations, an increase of 144 per cent over 89,729 tonnes recorded in 2011.

Aircraft movements for the year came in at 16,317, up 99% from 8,198 recorded in 2011. During 2012, more than 30 airlines operated into Dubai World Central, predominantly as cargo charter operations. Of these 15 were scheduled services.

Muscat International Airport and Salalah Airport

Oman is also currently involved in the expansion of its airports at both Muscat and Salalah, and the combined worked are considered to be one of the biggest construction works in the Sultanate. The two projects will enhance passenger handling capacities to 12 million and two million, respectively.

The $1.8bn project to develop a new terminal at Muscat's International Airport has passed the halfway stage, with the new runway, civil aviation HQ and control tower set to complete by end 2013. Under the same expansion programme, a pier adjacent to departures was completed in April 2009, providing an additional 17,000m2 across two levels, including retail and 1,800 lounge seats.

The $765m upgrade of Salalah Airport has also passed the halfway mark, with concrete works for the 65,000m2 international passenger terminal and the 57m-high control tower now complete. Parking for up to 3,000 vehicles is also being developed and a new runway is due by the middle of the year.

In October, the Omani Government re-tendered the engineering consultancy for both Muscat and Salalah after advising the Cowi-Larsen joint venture previously on the scheme that its contract would not be renewed beyond its December 31, 2012 expiration. In November the same year, Hill International was awarded a $108.6m contract to see the projects through to completion in 2014.

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