Estimated to cost BD 60 million ($157 million), the scheme will focus on the construction of a satellite terminal to increase the total passenger-handling capacity to over 15 million a year, from the current 7 million.

The proposed scheme will also entail the construction of 15 new aerobridges and docking bays, to serve the wide-bodied Airbus A380 aircraft, a new baggage-handling system and several related facilities. The project is scheduled to be completed in three-five years.

‘We are stretched to the limits during peak hours, with the existing terminal having to handle 1,300 passengers an hour,’ Sheikh Hisham al-Khalifa, assistant under-secretary (airport affairs) at the Transport Ministry, said at the MEED Middle East Airport Projects conference held in Bahrain on 14 October. The BIA terminal has capacity to handle 1,000 passengers an hour.

In 2002, BIA handled 4.2 million passengers, with projections for the current year being 4.5 million. ‘We expect to handle over 10 million [passengers] by 2010,’ he said.

The project is expected to be funded by the state, although options have been kept open to tender it on a build-operate (BO) basis. The next stage in the project implementation will be to conduct a detailed feasibility study and design, to be followed with the issuing of a tender for consultancy services. ‘The process will take about two years,’ Al-Khalifa said.

The proposed expansion is part of a masterplan prepared by NACOof the Netherlands. The new satellite terminal will be built at the eastern end of terminal 1.

The local/Cypriot GP Zachariadies is at an advanced stage of construction of the new air traffic control (ATC) centre for the first terminal, under an estimated $6 million contract (MEED 20:9:02).