Construction work to upgrade the four existing terminals at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) is still on hold.

“There were minor works that began early this year but the work was discontinued around mid- 2016,” a source who was involved with the project until recently tells MEED.

The client for the project, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca), declined to comment on the project’s status.

An official spokesperson for Germany’s Hochtief, which is understood to maintain 55 per cent shareholding in Nahdat al-Emaar – one of the companies who entered into a joint venture to bid for the contract in 2015, also told MEED the company could not comment on the issue.

The Hochtief, Nahdat al-Emaar and India’s Shapoorji Pallonji joint venture won two contracts each worth $1.45bn n 2015, whose scope includes the redevelopment of the terminals at the Riyadh airport.

Gaca tendered the contract to upgrade Riyadh’s existing  terminals in 2013. The contract included two packages – one for Terminals 1 and Terminal 2, and another for Terminal 3 and Terminal 4.

Terminal 1 and 2 cater to international flights, Terminal 3 caters to domestic flights, while Terminal 4 is currently unused.

A new terminal – Terminal 5 – was completed in early 2016 and is currently undergoing a soft opening. Ireland’s Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) won the five year contract to operate and maintain the new terminal.

Gaca told MEED in July that it will prioritise the redevelopment work on the four existing terminals at the Riyadh airport, with the first phase of the project expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2016, which is an indication of a plan or hopes to resume construction work. There are also plans to build a sixth terminal over the medium- to long-term.

If the project is completed as planned, international flights from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are to be gradually transferred to the new facility by mid- to late 2019. Once the move is completed, work will start on the redevelopment of the vacated international terminals, which Gaca expects to take another two-and-a-half years.

However, MEED sources who recently travelled to Riyadh have confirmed there are no visible active construction work at the old airport.

The Riyadh airport handled 22.5 million passengers in 2015, up 12 per cent from the year before. It is the second busiest airport in the kingdom next to Jeddah’s King Abdullah International airport (KAIA), which processed in excess of 30 million passengers in 2015.