A new aviation hub is set to open in Saudi Arabias northern region by the second quarter of 2016.
The new hub comprises mainly the Hail airport, which, similar to the other domestic airports in the neighbouring provinces, is currently served by two flights a week originating from the key cities in Saudi Arabia.
Under the ongoing initiative to convert Hail into a regional hub, Hail will serve as the main port of connection for passengers flying between the kingdoms key airports such as Mecca and Riyadh to the other six airports located in the northern provinces.
Newly-licensed Nesma Airlines will be based in the Hail aviation hub and will be operating daily flights between the domestic airports.
The new hub is expected to provide greater accessibility to the kingdoms less developed region. These routes were being previously served only by two flights a week and these flights were always full, which makes it impossible to accommodate growing demand, Basem Abdullah Alsallom, general manager for marketing at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) tells MEED.
With the new hub we will be pushing daily passenger traffic to Hail, which will then distribute them to the seven domestic airports, he says.
The domestic airports are located in the provinces of Turaif, Arar, Rafha, Al-Jouf, Tabuk and Qaisumah.
It is expected that Nesma Airlines flights from Hail to the neighbouring provinces will take an average of 30 minutes.
Alsallom also tells MEED that all airport projects that have been awarded by Gaca will not be affected by the budget cuts to be implemented by the Saudi government this year.
He adds that no major changes are expected in terms of future project awards. According to regional projects tracker MEED Projects, an estimated $4bn-worth of contracts, mostly for the expansion of existing domestic airports, is scheduled for award in the kingdom between 2016 and 2020.
|Airport||Country region||Net project value ($m)||Status||Expected year of award|
|Taif International||Mecca||1,000||Main contract prequalification||2016|
|Prince Abdulmohsin Bin Abdulaziz airport expansion||Medina||350||Design||2016|
|Qaisumah Domestic airport expansion||Eastern Province||300||Design||2016|
|Rafha Domestic airport expansion||Northern Borders Province||300||Design||2016|
|Turaif Domestic airport expansion||Northern Borders Province||300||Design||2016|
|Al-Jouf Domestic airport expansion||Al-Jouf||223||Main contract bid||2016|
|Al-Ahsa Domestic airport expansion||Eastern Province||300||Design||2017|
|Al-Wajh Domestic airport expansion||Tabuk||300||Design||2017|
|Sharurah Domestic airport expansion||Najran||300||Design||2017|
|Wadi al-Dawasir Domestic airport expansion||Riyadh||300||Design||2017|
|Qurayyat Domestic airport expansion||Al-Jouf||140||Design||2016|
|Al-Baha Domestic airport expansion||Al-Baha||97||Main contract bid||2016|
|Source: MEED Projects|