Some 81.9 million passengers passed through Saudi Arabia’s 27 international and domestic airports in 2015, the kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) has told the Saudi Press Agency.

This marks a 9.6 per cent increase from the 2014 figures of 74.7 million passengers.

The total number of aircraft movements across the kingdom’s airports grew in parallel, at 9.8 per cent, to reach 646,693 flights in 2015.

The kingdom’s busiest airport, Jeddah’s King Abdullah International (KAIA) had earlier said it handled some 30.1 million passengers in 2015, a 7 per cent increase compared with a year earlier, whereas Riyadh’s King Khaled International (KKIA) reported handling 22.5 million passengers, up 12 per cent from the year before.

The two other international airports, King Fahd International in Dammam and Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz in Medina, handled 9.4 million and 6.3 million passengers respectively.

Medina’s airport is the first airport infrastructure in the GCC to be developed on a 25-year build-transfer-operate (BTO) basis.

Gaca further said the 23 domestic and regional airports accounted jointly for a total of 13.5 million passengers and 128,041 flights in 2015.

The aviation regulator earlier said all its ongoing airport expansion projects are on track for completion within the next five years. It has also set in motion a full-scale privatisation strategy for all its airports and airport services entities.

Three airlines, Qatar-backed Al-Maha Airways, SaudiGulf Air and Nesma Air, have been granted a licence to operate flights in the kingdom, in line with the sector’s deregulation programme and in an effort to deal with the rising passenger traffic more efficiently. All three airlines, however, are still awaiting the release of their airline operator certificate (AOC) from Gaca to ultimately begin operating flights from and into the kingdom.

Passenger traffic in Saudi Arabia’s international airports (2014-2015)
Airport Passengers (in thousands) Year-on-year growth (%)
  2015 2014
KAIA – Jeddah 30,100 28,038 7.4%
KKIA – Riyadh 22,500 20,110 11.9%
KFIA – Dammam 9,400 8,248 14.0%
PMIA – Medina 6,300 6,338 -0.6%
Source: Gaca