JEDDAH — King Abdulaziz International Airport here is forecast to see a four-fold surge in annual passenger capacity to 80 million by 2035 and has put in place an expansion plan to cater to the increased demand, a top executive at the airport said.
KAIA Director Muhammad Abed told Aviation Business magazine that the airport, while it has facilities to handle a capacity of nine million passengers a year, handled 20 million in the last twelve months. “Which is much, much higher than our capacity,” said Abed. “It was therefore essential to develop a new terminal for the airport. Luckily we have a significant amount of land available for the project, which will be located between the east and center runways, without making an impact on current operations.”
At present, King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA), which is the home base for Saudi Arabian Airlines and the entry point for the holy cities of Makkah and Madina, has three terminals and three runways.
The development of the airport will be in three phases and Abed has estimated the capacity is set to surge even further over the next few decades.
“Three phases of development have been outlined and we expect to reach an ultimate capacity of 80 million annual passengers by 2035, still using the existing three runways.
“The project will follow a ‘just in time’ approach, so after the first phase is completed and the maximum capacity of 30 million annual passengers has been reached, we will automatically start the second phase, with a capacity of 43 million passengers. After that is reached, the third and final phase will commence, leading to the ultimate capacity of 80 million annual passengers,” Abed said.
The first phase of development was started in January 2011 and the foundation stone was laid by Crown Prince Sultan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General.
Saudi Gazette reported last month that according to the KAIA director, the airport’s buildings would be converted into an international air freight facility.
He said that 22 surveillance cameras have been installed at different terminals connected to his office and the authorities concerned to monitor the smooth flow of work.
Abed also announced that 90 percent of the regular arrival and departure flights of Umrah pilgrims would be transferred to the Haj and Umrah terminals. — SG __