Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) has extended the prequalification closing date to 18 April for the public-private partnership (PPP) deal to develop the SR5.6bn ($1.5bn) first phase of Medina airport.

The original submission date was 5 April but the date has been extended to give companies more time to prepare, says a source close to the project (MEED 8:3:10).

The successful contractor will have to develop, rehabilitate, expand, finance and operate the Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz airport in Medina.

While the current value of the first phase of the expansion of Medina airport is SR5.6bn, this could rise to SR9bn by the end of phase two, a source from Gaca tells MEED.

The authority plans to revamp the airport to increase its passenger handling capacity to 14 million people a year. The airport currently handles about 3.5 million passengers a year.

The expansion involves the construction of a new passenger terminal, the renovation of the existing runway and the possible construction of a second runway.

Construction work could begin in 2011.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the Washington-based World Bank, is acting as transaction adviser on the airport expansion project.

As the Medina project is the first airport in the kingdom to be developed on a PPP basis, Gaca is meeting with banks, airport operators and contractors on 7 April where it will provide interested parties with further details on how the project transaction will work.

The expansion of Medina airport is just part of Saudi Arabia’s larger plans to develop more than $10.5bn worth of airport projects in the kingdom as it tries to increase capacity.