Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) is expected to start inviting contractors to submit expressions of interest for the expansion of Medina International airport in early 2010, according to sources linked to the project.

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 (PPP) basis.

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

The IFC has finished due diligence and is now waiting for the Saudi government to begin marketing the project.

Gaca is likely to start this process by inviting contractors to submit expressions of interest in the early part of 2010. If tenders are awarded towards the end of next year, construction work could start in 2011.

The multi-billion-dollar project will be the first airport in the kingdom that Gaca has developed under a PPP contract (MEED 24:4:09).