Iraq plans to issue tenders for the new Middle Euphrates International airport in early 2012.

The Middle Euphrates airport is being built between the cities of Karbala and Najaf. It will serve the millions of Shia pilgrims and tourists that visit the two cities each year due to the number of shrines and areas of religious significance. The airport was initially known as Al-Furat al-Awsat.

The Middle Euphrates airport is being built between the cities of Karbala and Najaf. It will serve the millions of Shia pilgrims

The area is about 100 kilometres southwest of Baghdad. The masterplan of the airport was approved in November 2010. The detailed design is due to be complete by the end of this year, says a source involved with the project.

The airport will be developed in three phases. The first phase will have a capacity of six million passengers a year. Work will involve building two passenger terminals, one of which will serve normal traffic and the other will be specifically used by pilgrims.

Phase one will also involve the construction of a 4km runway, a 40-metre high air traffic control tower and 29 aircraft stands.

The second phase will see the capacity increase to 12 million passengers and the third phase will have a capacity of 19.5 million passengers a year. Future plans also involve building a 50-hectare airport city at the entrance to the airport (MEED 18:5:10).

France’s Aeroports de Paris Ingenierie (Adpi) won the contract in 2009 to select the site for the airport development. Adpi also carried out the masterplan for the airport and the airport city.