Airport plans fly at PCA

17 March 2006

Tendering activity is gathering pace on a host of airport projects throughout the kingdom in a bid to raise capacity at both domestic and international airports. The most advanced project is the proposed expansion and rehabilitation of the Hajj terminal at the King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah. The client is the Presidency of Civil Aviation (PCA) and the newly-created General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA - MEED 3:2:06).

Nine consortiums have been invited to submit technical and commercial proposals by the end of July for the build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession covering the proposed expansion (see table). The project includes upgrading the 500,000-square-metre terminal and creating permanent structures to replace existing tent structures. A total of 1.2 million pilgrims used the terminal last year, but substandard facilities and overcrowding have led to long processing and waiting times. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, is advising the PCA.

The Hajj terminal upgrade is part of an overall plan to redevelop KAIA. The PCA has held clarifications with three shortlisted contractors for the first main construction package. South Korea's Samwham Corporation submitted the low bid for the 16-month design-and-build airport facilities upgrade package in December (MEED 9:12:05).

The KAIA expansion involves the construction of a new terminal and support services building, modifications to the existing South and North terminals and upgrades to the existing runway and airfield systems to accommodate A380s from Europe's Airbus. NACO of the Netherlands recently completed a review of the original airport masterplan. The PCA has also invited firms to submit technical and commercial offers by 22 April for a five-year contract to provide project and construction management services at the airport. The expansion is estimated to cost at least SR 5,625 million ($1,500 million - MEED 17:2:06).

The GACA is also turning its attention to regional airports. Contractors have been invited to bid by the end of April for the estimated SR 200 million ($53 million) contract to expand Tabuk airport. The scope of works includes construction of a new two-storey terminal building, new arrival and departure lounges, a royal pavilion, a mosque and a clinic. It also calls for the construction of a bridge connecting the new terminal to the existing facility. The expansion will increase the airport's total built-up area by 12,000 square metres to about 46,000 square metres.

Saudi Consolidated Engineering Company (Khatib & Alami) completed in late October a review of the existing masterplan and a redesign of the proposed new terminal building. Tabuk airport is the fourth largest in the kingdom and serves about 60 domestic flights a day. The PCA estimates that passenger throughput is growing at 4.5 per cent a year.

Consultants have also been requested to submit proposals for the upgrade and expansion of two other regional airports. Bids are due in by 25 March for the upgrade of Gurayat airport in the north and by 8 April for the expansion of Hail airport.

The GACA has been charged with introducing reforms and liberalising the aviation sector. The authority has drawn up an ambitious expansion programme, with the most recent award coming at Yanbu airport. The local Almabani General Contractors was awarded a 24-month contract to upgrade the airport. Other plans include grassroots airports at Madein Salih, the ancient Nabatean city, and the industrial hub of Rabigh.

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