I'm not sure whether people here have much interest about Saudi aviation, but since it's an under-reported region, I reckon it might be good to keep people up to date.
After years of tight budgets, the government finally has the cash to spend on much needed infrastructure thanks to high oil prices. Aviation infrastructure is one such sector in need of upgrade. I'll describe the projects seperately, with most important first:
Jeddah Airport (JED
Jeddah airport expansion is the highest priority project for the Presidency of Civil Aviation, as the airport is in desperate need for refurbishment and upgrade. The airport has been a disaster from the day it opened in 1981, but with traffic (14 million +) exceeding design capacity (12 million) it has become worse than ever. In 2000, plans were made to upgrade the airport by expanding and transforming the south terminal into a modern 32 gate terminal, with a capacity of 21 million. However the project was continuously put back until it was finally shelved last year. Now, the government is embarking on a new plan. They have invited tenders for the construction of a brand new terminal in a different location within the airport. The terminal is to replace the current terminals, and have a capacity of 30 million passengers/annum with provision for expansion to 60 million passengers. "After the new airport development works have been completed and operations have been transferred to the new terminal complex, the existing passenger terminals, they may be re-used for many other purposes" (improved cargo facilities perhaps?) .
The project will be done on a Build Operate Transfer basis.
According to local papers, the government received 6 bids in August. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2006 and completion 2010. Cost is estimated at $1.5 billion
In the meantime, stop-gap improvements are being made to the current terminals to keep them going. Also, work has begun on completing the western section of the Hajj terminal, with four new boarding units built on a BOT basis.
Medina airport (MED)
There are firm plans to turn Medina into Saudi Arabia's 4th full international airport. Studies are being made to build a new state of the art terminal and upgrade airside facilities. The airport is expected to handle an extra 1 million (from the current 460 thousand) international passenger movements (mostly to/from arabic and islamic countries) once completed raising the overall expected traffic to about 3 million (currently 1.6 million). The new airport, should be open to foreign operators.
There are plans to build a second runway, to aid crosswind operations. There also plans to build a seperate international section to allow the airport to serve regional gulf destinations.
Airside facilities are to be upgraded, with new cargo/mail facilities, extra apron space (3 planes at once), and enlarged passenger lounge (400 passengers).
That's pretty much it. I hope these projects make for functional and pleasant airports
[Edited 2005-10-18 06:30:46]