Bahrain’s international airport expansion, which upon completion in 2020 will be four times the size of the existing facility, is expected to create jobs and drive growth in the island-state’s travel and tourism sector.

“We will train our [airport] staff starting immediately to be more customer focused… we will probably not be the largest but we are aiming to be the most friendly and efficient,” Bahrain Transport Minister Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed tells MEED.

A joint venture of Dubai-based Arabtec Corporation and Turkey’s TAV was awarded the contract to build the new terminal building on 23 January as part of the $1.1bn expansion of the Bahrain International airport (BIA).Four other contracts were awarded including one each for passenger air bridges, baggage handling systems, security and horizontal and vertical transfer systems.

Roughly 70 per cent of the project is being funded by the GCC Fund, primarily by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), with the rest being provided by the Bahraini government.

Designed with a capacity to handle 14 million passengers annually, the new airport will enable Bahrain to offer better services for the next 15 to 20 years, says Mohammed. ”I am lucky that the new airport contract was awarded during my term [of office], considering that the airport underwent its last major refurbishment more than 20 years ago in 1994.”

The existing terminal will be demolished starting in 2019, when 80 per cent the expanded BIA will have been completed.

Until then, continued refurbishment will be undertaken to ensure the existing airport will continue to comply with international standards particularly those related to safety, Mohammed said. “We are not doing nothing…a new hangar capable of serving two aircraft units at a time is expected to be completed in 2018 and a new fuel farm is expected to come online between 2018 and 2019.” The government executive added that the airport’s arrival hall is undergoing refurbishment and its air bridges were replaced in 2015.

Beyond 2020

The sustained increase in passenger traffic at the BIA and the limited land area in which the new airport could expand to accommodate future demand means that the next location will be at sea, specifically in the northern part of Bahrain.

Mohammed confirmed that a study has been conducted to identify the location of BIA’s future terminal. “We had to conduct the study early on, and perhaps start with the reclamation sometime around 2022 because such project could take up to 10 years to develop,” says Mohammed. He added that the exact location for the future airport has been identified and reserved by the Transport Ministry.

Monthly passenger movements at BIA
Month 2014 2015
January 684,743 764,540
February 594,728 631,480
March 662,740 718,504
April 683,333 710,169
May 659,630 706,957
June 695,559 659,888
July 605,548 749,782
August 825,903 862,113
September 680,783 761,930
October 698,606 654,342
November 588,500 625,404
December 722,429 741,536
Total 8,102,502 8,586,645
Source: Bahrain Airport Company