Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority hopes to invite firms to bid for the design of the expansion of Baghdad International Airport by the end of 2010.

Before the expansion can go ahead, Iraq first needs to attract between $5bn and $7bn to fund the project, Adnan Blebil, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority tells MEED.

While no definite investment has yet been received, Blebil is confident that international firms will come forward to fund the expansion project once a new government is in place. The current lack of leadership in the country is standing in the way of its reconstruction plans.

Blebil says he expects revenues to reach $2bn a year when the airport project is complete.

“Some international groups are now working together to [try] and take it as one package,” says Blebil although he declined to name the companies. “I’m sure all investors are waiting for the new government and an [improved] security atmosphere in Iraq. And this is going well.”

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority and the Transport Ministry are currently working on a masterplan for Baghdad airport, which is scheduled to be ready soon.

The Iraqi authorities were due to start drafting a masterplan in the summer of 2009 (MEED 3:4:09).

The existing airport at Baghdad consists of one runway and three passenger terminals. The new plan will involve the construction of three more passenger terminals, one of which will be able to accommodate the Airbus A380 aircraft and a domestic terminal.

The existing passenger terminals are able to handle 7.5 million passengers each year. With the expansion, this will increase to 15 million passengers a year over the next five years.

The expansion will also comprise a freezone, warehouses, a business park and a cargo village that will include cargo terminals and storage facilities.

Once this is complete, the existing cargo terminal will be used for general aviation purposes.

The business park will comprise hotels, offices and restaurants and a railway or road link is being considered to connect the airport freezone with the national railway network.

Iraq currently has six international airports. Blebil estimates that between $25bn and $30bn is needed to completely upgrade the country’s aviation infrastructure.