Jeddah plans $31bn airport expansion

29 May 2023
Capital expenditure will take the capacity of King Abdulaziz International airport to 114 million passengers a year


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Jeddah Airports Company (Jedco) plans to transform King Abdulaziz International airport (KAIA) into one of the world’s largest airports with a SR115bn ($31bn) expansion plan that will increase its capacity to 114 million passengers a year.

The largest components of the plan cover the design and expansion of Terminal 1 and the construction of a new passenger terminal to be called Terminal 2.

The expected completion date for the expansion project is 2031.

Terminal plans

The Terminal 1 project comprises basic infrastructure and enabling works, the installation of new gates, air bridges and parking aprons, the extension of the automatic people mover, new baggage conveyor systems and lounges, with the goal of increasing annual passenger capacity by 15 million.

Work on the multibillion-dollar scheme is scheduled to start this year, with completion targeted for 2026.

The Terminal 2 project aims to increase the airport’s total capacity to 114 million passengers a year, almost tripling the airport’s 40 million limit today.

Due to start in 2026 and end by 2031, the project will involve constructing a completely new terminal building with dozens of gates, new taxiways, aprons, roads, utilities, and baggage handling and other software systems. It is likely to be worth in excess of $10bn to build.

Jedco is also planning to construct a fourth runway starting in 2025 and completing by 2029 to cope with the increased traffic. Due to space limitations, the new runway will require substantive infrastructure relocation work to accommodate it.

Passenger traffic-focused developments are not the only element of the plan. As part of growing the airport’s commercial proposition, the client is also due to start developing a new logistics area later this year.

Covering more than 3 square kilometres, the facility will house new customs and service buildings as well as several leasable warehouses for the private sector. Construction of the facilities will be implemented in phases with an ultimate scheduled completion date of 2029.

Concurrently, Jedco is building a new Hajj and Umrah terminal. Pilgrims comprise a large portion of passenger traffic, and the new arrivals and departures hall for budget airlines will be able to handle 15 million passengers a year. The project is expected to be completed by 2025.

Another project starting this year is the construction of a new baggage handling facility to expand the airport’s existing capacity. The building will be located next to Terminal 1 and will be integrated with the existing conveyor belt systems.

Passenger demand

The project investment programme is a result of Jedco’s forecast that annual demand will reach 114 million passengers by 2030. Of this figure, the authority estimates 51 million will come from Saudi Arabian Airlines, 21 million from international airlines, and 13 million and 12 million from budget airlines Flynas and Flyadeal, respectively.

The forecast and plans were created in conjunction with key drivers of future passenger demand in the Mecca and Jeddah region, including gigaproject real estate developers Roshn and Uptown Jeddah, air cargo handler Saudi Logistics Services (SAL), and the General Civil Aviation Authority (Gaca) with its subsidiary Matarat Holding. Engineering firms Atkins, Mace and DGJ also inputted into the process. The three companies are the consultants on the capital projects investment plan.

KAIA has three operational terminals. Opened in 2018, Terminal 1 is one of the world’s largest passenger terminals, and caters primarily for the state carrier and domestic flights. The North Terminal handles international airlines, while the Hajj Terminal is dedicated to pilgrim traffic.

Construction work on KAIA has been a key driver of airport-building activity in Saudi Arabia in the past. In 2010, there were over $7bn of contract awards for work at the airport, marking the most active year for airport construction activity on record, according to regional projects tracker MEED Projects.

There are other major airport projects planned in Saudi Arabia. In November, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud announced the masterplan for King Salman International airport in Riyadh. If completed on time in 2030, it will become the largest airport in the world in terms of passenger capacity.

The airport aims to accommodate up to 120 million passengers by 2030 and 185 million by 2050. For cargo, the goal is to process 3.5 million tonnes a year by 2050.

Neom airport

Another major airport is planned for Neom. US firm Aecom confirmed on 22 March that it had been awarded a contract to provide project management consultancy (PMC) services for the new airport project.

The airport will be inland, close to the Tabuk end of the 170-kilometre-long Line development. Neom International airport is separate from the Neom Bay airport, which started receiving commercial flights in 2019.

Although not confirmed, it is understood that the first phase of the airport will have the capacity to handle 25 million passengers a year. A second phase could take the capacity up to 50 million passengers a year. There is an aspiration for the airport to become the largest in the world, with a capacity of 100 million passengers a year. 

Regional airports

Smaller domestic airports are also being developed. In March, Matarat signed a three-year contract with France’s Egis Group to provide technical support and project management services for 26 regional airports.

The contract aims to establish phased project management portals, update airport project management policies and procedures, and provide technical support for planning and designing.

The contract also involves following up on the implementation of capital projects with Matarat subsidiaries, including Riyadh Airports Company, Jeddah Airports, Dammam Airports and Cluster2. 

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