Privatised Medina airport sees increased passenger numbers

03 February 2013

Construction of new terminal at Medina airport is ahead of schedule

Passenger numbers at Saudi Arabia’s newly privatised Medina airport increased by close to 30 per cent in 2012, compared with the same period the previous year. The hike in passenger volume comes in the same year the airport was taken over by private operators.

Passenger numbers climbed to about 4.58 million in 2012, from 3.55 million recorded the year before.

The growth has, in part, been driven by demand from the increasing number of pilgrims travelling to nearby Mecca.

It has also been attributed to improved efficiency and discipline at the airport, such as ensuring people arrive on time for their allotted flight or be denied permission to fly. This level of discipline was not seen before the privatisation, according to a source close to the project.  

In June last year, a consortium led by Turkey’s TAV Airports began to operate the airport under a 25-year build-transfer-operate concession.

TAV is also overseeing the expansion of the existing airport, which includes the construction of a new terminal, apron and taxiway. The initial capacity for the expanded airport will be 8 million people.

In June 2012, financial close was reached on a $1.14bn project finance deal to fund the new terminal.

The new terminal is to be built within a 36-month construction period, but a source close to the project suggests the project is at least eight months ahead of schedule.

The Saudi government is closely monitoring the success of using a public-private partnership (PPP) structure to finance, build and operate Medina airport to assess whether to apply the model to other airports. It is thought that Saudi’s General Authority of Civil Aviation has pinpointed another Saudi airport to privatise in the coming years.

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