The process is underway to transfer ownership of all commercial airports in Saudi Arabia to a newly established entity, called General Aviation Holding Company, which will be fully owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

The assets transfer is in line with the plan for the General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) to play the role of a pure regulator.

It is understood that the holding company was formally established earlier this year. The information technology (IT) and air traffic management divisions of Gaca have evolved into independent entities under the control of the holding company.

Gaca’s training academy unit is also set to become one of the companies operating under the umbrella of the holding company later this year, a source tells MEED.

Independent shareholding companies have been set up for airports in Riyadh and Dammam. It is understood that each of these entities will come under the control of the holding company.

These developments support the kingdom’s plan to privatise all its civilan airports by 2020.

Construction of Terminal 5 at Riyadh’s King Khalid International airport  was completed in 2015. The five-year contract to operate and manage the terminal was subsequently awarded to Dublin Airport Authority (DAA). Renovation work on the rest of Riyadh airport’s four terminals has started. A joint venture of Turkey’s IC Ictas and local Al-Rashid Trading & Contracting was awarded a four-year contract in April to redevelop the existing terminals starting with the inactive Terminal 4. A further plan includes the development of a new terminal, Terminal 6, using PPP.

The new airport in Jeddah is expected to become operational in 2018 with Singapore’s Changi Airport Group recently awarded a 20-year contract to operate and manage the airport.

Gaca has also recently awarded PPP contracts for the development of Taif International airport, and new passenger terminals at Yanbu, Hail and Al-Qassim.

A special-purpose vehicle (SPV) for each airport will be formed to implement the 30-year concession agreements with the holding company and the government.

Turkey’s TAV, along with local firm Al-Rajhi Holding Group, recently won the 30- contracts to design, build and operate airport terminals in Yanbu, Hail and Al-Qassim.

A team of Lebanon’s Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Munich Airport, and the local Asyad Holding won the fourth contract for the development of the Taif International airport.