The scope of works for the 22-month first phase includes construction of a 4-kilometre concrete runway with a width of 60 metres, concrete taxiways and aprons, a 16,500-square-metre terminal, an air traffic control tower, various administrative buildings, warehouses, aircraft hangers and infrastructure work. The scheme will also entail the supply and installation of all electrical and mechanical systems. Phase 1 will have capacity for 1.5 million passengers a year.

Scott Wilson, which is acting as design consultant and project manager in the team, is also carrying out studies to increase the size of the runway. The plans are aimed at accommodating Europe’s AirbusA380 super-jumbo airliner and include lengthening the runway to 4.8 kilometres with a width of 75 metres. The client, the Kurdish Regional Government, is financing the airport’s development.

Renovation work to turn the existing Irbil International Airport (EIA) into a commercial passenger airport was completed earlier this year, although it only received international certification in July. EIA will eventually be integrated into the new airport. KP Costain, the local affiliate of the UK’s Costain Group, oversaw the refurbishment of the airport.

The decision to build a greenfield airport at Irbil aims to facilitate travel to Iraq and encourage investment in the Kurdish region. Enjoying relative security compared to the rest of the country, the area is witnessing a construction and industrial boom. Direct flights from Irbil to London, Frankfurt, Amman and Dubai have all started over the last three months and unlike in Baghdad, passengers are able to obtain 10-day visas on arrival.

Erbil’s airport plans are the latest in the north. Work on the new Sulaimaniyah airport is close to completion. In March 2004, AGS, a subsidiary of Turkey’s AGE Construction & Trading, won a $34 million contract to build the airport. Designed to have capacity of about 3 million passengers a year, the contract covers the construction of two 3.5-kilometre runways, taxiways, administrative buildings, service buildings, control tower, electronic systems and approach facilities. AGS was also awarded earlier in the year a $4.2 million contract for the construction of the terminal building.