Manama airport refit goes ahead

20 September 2002

The local Haji Hassan Grouphas won the contract to convert the existing aircraft taxiway at Bahrain International Airport (BIA) into an emergency runway. The UK-based Jacobs/Gibbis the consultant for the project, which is expected to lead to the entire resurfacing of the airport's main runway (MEED 7:6:02).

A tender is also due out in late September for the contract to build a new air traffic control tower - designed by the local Janahi Abubaker Janahi Architects. The tower and taxiway redevelopment form part of the first phase in the planned upgrade of BIA's infrastructure. The main element of the revamp is the construction of a BD 20 million ($61 million) satellite terminal at the eastern end of terminal 1 (MEED 30:8:02).

The circular structure - designed by NACO of the Netherlands - will incorporate eight aircraft docking bays adding to the airport's existing airside parking facilities. The Works Ministry is preparing to invite consultants to bid for the contract to provide detailed designs in the fourth quarter.

Bahrain Air Services (BAS), which manages the airport's growing cargo business, is also planning to expand its freight depot. Work on the expansion of the BAS cargo terminal will be followed by the redevelopment of the airport's western apron - which is used for military purposes - into a commercial space. The project will also involve the expansion of an aircraft parking apron, built for the US Air Force in the early 1990s, next to the main runway.

Long-term, plans are in place to relocate the existing airport north onto land that now lies under three feet of seawater. This will involve extensive dredging and reclamation work in order to create a land platform for the construction of a second runway and terminal by 2020.

This year the airport expects to beat its 4 million total passenger throughput target, a milestone that would have been achieved in 2001, had the bottom not fallen out of the international air transport sector. In the first six months the airport handled more than 1.9 million passengers, on a par with last year's pre-11 September figures. Passenger throughput is expected to increase in the second half as seasonal air traffic flying into the Gulf picks up (MEED 12:7:02, Cover Story).

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