Jeddah postpones airport soft opening

06 May 2018
Aviation regulator has yet to specify new dates for the airport trial opening and operations & maintenance contract retender

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) has postponed Jeddah airport’s soft opening due to unfinished work in the airport’s section that caters to domestic flights.

According to local media reports, Gaca has yet to specify a new date for the airport’s trial opening. The planned opening date had been 1 May.

In February, Gaca terminated the 20-year operation and management contract it awarded in April 2017 to a joint venture led by Singapore-based Changi Airports International (CAI).

The consortium is understood to have already established the management team for the new airport and was preparing for the airport’s Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (Orat) programme when the contract as terminated on 21 February.

Gaca earlier said it was aiming for the new airport to become operational before the hajj season commences this year.

Gaca did not specify a reason for the contract’s termination and is yet to retender the contract, which has been tendered twice.

It is understood the aviation regulator will preside over the airport’s trial operations when it starts.

CAI declined to disclose if it will participate in a new tender. “The firm will discuss the termination and transition with Gaca and could not make further comments on KAIA [King Abdulaziz International airport] or projects connected to KAIA,” CAI spokesperson See Ngee Muoy told MEED.

It is unclear if previous bidders such as France-based Aeroports de Paris Management (ADPM) and Malaysia Airports Holdings intend to participate in a new tender.

King Abdulaziz International airport is Saudi Arabia’s largest airport in terms of passenger traffic, handling 31.15 million passengers in 2016, a 3.5 per cent increase on 2015.

The airport redevelopment began in 2010 when Gaca awarded local Saudi Binladin Group two contracts worth a combined $7.2bn for the overhaul of the existing airport terminal and the construction of a new one. The new terminal has a design capacity of 30 million passengers annually.

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