Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) expects to invite prequalified companies to submit bids to develop the $1.5bn first phase of Medina airport by the end of July.

In June, Gaca prequalified eight consortiums to bid for the work after receiving about 49 requests for prequalification in April (MEED 07:04:10).

The first phase of the airport development project involves developing airside and landside facilities under a long-term concession agreement.

Gaca plans to increase passenger handling at the airport to 14 million people a year from its current capacity of about 3.5 million passengers a year. Medina airport plans a key role in the kingdoms’ religious tourism sector, due to its proximity to Mecca.

The expansion work also involves the construction of a new passenger terminal, the renovation of the existing runway and the potentially the construction of a second runway. Development will be split across two phases. The project could cost a total of SR9bn ($2.4bn) to develop.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the Washington-based World Bank, is acting as the lead adviser to Gaca on the project.

Medina airport will be the first airport project to be developed on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis and several banks confirm they are already in talks with potential bidders about providing funding for the scheme. However, there are no details about how much funding each bidder will be required to provide.