Investors line up for Najaf airport BOT

16 December 2005
At least six international firms have submitted expressions of interest for the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract on the proposed greenfield international airport project near Najaf. The airport will have capacity of about 2.5 million passengers and 5,000 tonnes a year of cargo (MEED 23:9:05).

'We are negotiating terms with investors from the Middle East and Europe,' says a source in the Transportation Ministry. 'We will conclude discussions in the next two months and then seek approval from the government.'

The project, to be built on a BOT basis with a 15-year concession, is expected to cost about $300 million. Its scope of works includes construction of a four-kilometre concrete runway with a width of 60 metres, a concrete taxiway with a width of 45 metres, an apron for at least 10 aircraft, a two-storey terminal with six passenger bridges, an air traffic control tower, various administrative buildings, a hotel, aircraft hangers and infrastructure.

Work has already started on transforming Najaf's existing military airport at Al-Hamza into the Al-Imam Ali passenger airport, which will cater to domestic traffic. The decision to develop Najaf's air infrastructure aims to serve religious pilgrims travelling to and from Iran. Until now, Shia pilgrims have been forced to travel along highways in predominantly Sunni areas near the Baghdad airport and between the capital and Najaf. The area, which is 90 miles south of Baghdad and near to Karbala, is home to several Shia shrines.

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