Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) has invited firms to prequalify for the public-private partnership (PPP) deal to develop Medina airport.

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

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

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.

If tenders are awarded towards the end of the year, then construction work could start in 2011.

The multi-billion dollar development project is the first airport in the kingdom that Gaca is developing under a PPP contract.

The Washington-based World Bank has also asked consultants to submit expressions of interest in two deals covering site surveys to be carried out on the land where the airport expansion will take place by 13 March (MEED 7:3:10).

The first deal covers a topographical study. The winning consultant will gather data on the natural and man-made features of the site. The contract for this deal may be awarded in early April, says one source close to the project.

The World Bank, which is financing the study, has also asked consultants to submit expressions of interest in a deal for preliminary geotechnical studies of the site by 13 March. This study covers research into the types of rock and soil at the site and will help plan earthworks and foundations for the expansion.

The new Medina airport is part of a larger programme of airport projects across the Saudi Arabia. The largest airport project is at Jeddah, with other smaller domestic terminals planned for Abha, Bisha, Al-Ihsa’a, Al-Jowf, Al-Qasim, Al-Baha, Wadi Al-Dawaser, Sharorah, Al-Wajeh, Torif, Rafha, Dawadmi, Al-Qaisumah, Hail, Arar and Al-Gurayat.