GCC airports keen to expand facilities and technology

aviationgcc-PietervanMarion-flickrGCC airports are planning large-scale expansions in the next few years, with Oman, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain looking to revamp existing airports

The Sharjah airport is likely to undergo a phased expansion to double its existing capacity. Abu Dhabi is also planning a major expansion with the Midfield Terminal Building, expected to be ready by 2017.

A consortium led by the German contractor Hochtief has been chosen to upgrade four terminals at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh for US$2.9bn.

The new Muscat International Airport is being designed to handle 12mn passengers annually, which is more than double its current capacity. Nasser al Zaabi, CEO of Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), said that the Muscat airport has been witnessing a growth of around 10 per cent annually. Salalah too had registered growth with more scheduled flights operating from the GCC to neighbouring cities.

Kuwait recently awarded a US$4.8bn contract to expand the country’s international airport by building a new runway and terminal, and boosting the airport capacity to 13mn by 2016. Bahrain International Airport (BIA) is also set to expand existing facilities and modernise the hub at an estimated cost of US$2bn.

Research and Markets has released the Airport Construction Market in the GCC Countries 2015-2019 report, which has stated that expansion of airline alliances in the region is one of the main reasons for the market to flourish. Organisers of the Airport Show, scheduled to be held in May 2015, added that GCC airports are investing over US$100bn towards acquiring cutting-edge technologies that would ensure seamless and safe passenger and freight movement.

Several airlines are seeking to expand their fleet. Oman Air plans to expand its fleet size to 55 by 2017 and add long-haul routes with the inclusion of Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways launched the Airbus A380 and Boeing B787-8 to tap into the growing Gulf market. Dubai’s Emirates has nearly 57 A380s in its fleet and has been using Superjumbos on short-haul routes as well.

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