Saudi Arabia is planning SR2.5bn ($667m) of projects as part of a programme to upgrade its domestic airport network, an official from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) tells MEED.

Gaca is planning to start work on overhauling 16 domestic airports that include 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.

The budget for the expansion of Hail, Arar and Al-Gurayat is SR30m and the designs for these projects are about 35 per cent complete.

The kingdom’s Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has now received the site where the construction of the $100m Taif airport is to be carried out and the invitations to bid for the $5.8m design of the airport is being reviewed, the official says.

The budget does not involve the expansion projects being carried out on the kingdom’s international airports, says the official.

Gaca is working on a $2bn expansion of King Abdulaziz International airport in Jeddah, which will eventually increase capacity to 80 million passengers a year by 2035 compared to the current 13 million passengers a year. Tenders for two design and build contracts covering infrastructure works and a new terminal building are due to be submitted at the end of March.

A source closely involved with the expansion of Medina airport says Gaca is on track to invite expressions of interest for the expansion work in the next two weeks (MEED 14:12:09).

The authority has 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.

Gaca will award contracts for the construction of a terminal and a possible new runway on a public-private partnership basis.