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Mega GCC airport developments key to global aviation growth

By Ghassan Amhaz

With more than 3.7 billion passengers expected to traverse the skies across the world in 2016, airport expansion becomes imperative.
The Middle East, namely Gulf Cooperation Council member states, have been ramping up their spending on development projects including ambitious aviation-related plans.

Spending on airport construction projects globally has also been steadily increasing, with current expenditure exceeding $441 billion, of which over $52 billion has been allocated for aviation-related projects and airport expansions in the GCC region. Of that, over $40 billion worth of airport investments are underway or planned in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone, according to recent information released by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, (CAPA).

Key airport projects in the Arab Gulf region include:

  • Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai, is one of the largest projects in the aviation industry with investments of about $33 billion. The airport, which has a projected annual capacity of 12 million tons of freight and 160-260 million passengers, has already completed a 66,000 square meter terminal with 64-aircraft bays and a 4.5 kilometer runway.
  • Dubai International Airport is undertaking a $7.8 billion expansion program to boost its capacity from 60 million passengers, to over 100 million passengers by 2020.
    The plan also involves the construction of additional terminals and concourse areas spanning an extra 675,000 sqm of floor space. Cargo growth is expected to reach 4.1 million tons by 2020.
  • Ajman International Airport Project, entailing an investment of $600 million, is expected to be completed by 2018. The airport will process over 1 million passengers every year.
  • Abu Dhabi will have a new airport terminal complex commissioned by 2017. The $2.9 billion project will effectively double the capacity of Etihad Airways’ home base to about 30 million passengers annually. The 700,000 sqm terminal building is one of the key strategic infrastructure projects to be undertaken in the UAE capital. It will initially handle 27 million passengers per year. 
  • King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is a three-stage development with a budget exceeding $1.5 billion. The goal is to cater to over 30 million passengers.
    The first phase includes a 400,000 sqm terminal complex tower, control tower, access roads and utilities. The remaining phases are scheduled for completion in 2035, with the aim of increasing the airport’s capacity to 85 million passengers.
  • The Sultanate of Oman has earmarked $6.1 billion for aviation-related projects over the next five years, including major terminal developments at Muscat and Salalah international airports, and the completion of four new regional airports at Sohar, Ras al Hadd, Duqm and Adam.
    Ninety-two percent is allocated for the two primary airports in Muscat and Salalah, while the remaining eight percent is allocated for the aforementioned four new regional airports.
    Due for completion in 2016, Muscat International Airport will handle over 12 million passengers annually.
    At a later stage it will be expanded to further accommodate 48 million passengers.
  • Bahrain International Airport is undergoing a $1 billion expansion to raise its capacity to 13.5 million passengers annually.
    The project includes the construction of a new passenger terminal of more than 150,000 sqm and other buildings including those for general civil engineering, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) works, aircraft parking, car park, interiors, exteriors and other related works by 2018.
  •  Sharjah International Airport is waiting to complete its 2030 master plan. Much of Sharjah’s growth over the past decade has been fuelled by the Gulf’s first low-cost carrier, Air Arabia.
    Sharjah International will review its expansion every five years until 2030 and measure its response to growth.
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