The joint venture that won the $685m contract in 2014 to build a new regional airport at Jizan in the southern region of Saudi Arabia expects to begin construction of the airport on a new location within three to four months.

The client, General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca), handed over the land for the airport to the joint venture, comprising Safari Company, Nassir Hazza and Saudi Lebanese Modern Construction, in April.

The joint venture has also appointed Lebanon’s Khatib & Alami to undertake the design of the new airport, which is now envisaged to accommodate international as well as domestic flights.

The contract won in 2014 calls for the construction of a regional airport that will feature a terminal building that could handle up to 2.4 million passengers annually, along with a modern cargo complex and air traffic control tower, a runway and taxiway, among other facilities.

Construction work on the project stopped in December 2015 based on the request made by Saudi Aramco, which suggested that the previously assigned location where the new airport was being built may present an opportunity for oil and gas exploration activity.

The allocation of a new land, which is not far from the previously assigned construction site, requires a change in the design of the airport terminal building, which explains the appointment of Khatib & Alami to undertake the design.

The terminal capacity and other elements of the original airport plan, however, remain unchanged.

The airport is expected to be completed in 2020.

Apart from the construction of the new airport, the joint venture is now undertaking the construction of a new runway and taxiways and the upgrade of facilities at the existing airport in Jizan.

“There are significant savings to be made with the construction of the airport on this new location compared to redeveloping the old airport,” a source familiar with the project tells MEED, citing that the cost-savings will now be used to finance the upgrade of the existing airport.