Phase 1 involves extending the frontage of the existing main terminal building by 50 metres to create a larger airside docking area; the entire redevelopment of the terminal’s interior; and the construction of nine new aircraft docking bays.

The first package, which is expected to be tendered on a construction management basis, will cover the development of a new 350-metre-long building, located airside of the existing terminal, including an international departures lounge and four passenger gates. Work on the revamp of the existing terminal will only begin once the new facilities are completed, to minimise any disruption to services.

Six international consultants are drawing up designs for the project, which is intended to boost Seeb’s capacity to 6.5 million passengers a year from 2.3 million in phase 1. They are Tilney Simmons International, Halcrow Group, Mace International, EC Harrisand WS Atkins International– all of the UK, and a local/UK team of Huckall & Partnersand Pascal & Watson (MEED 31:8:02). OAMC, which is a consortium of British Airports Authority, Bahwan Trading Companyand Zurich-based ABB Equity Ventures, signed in 2001 the concession agreement to manage and develop Seeb and Salalah airports for 25 years (MEED 26:10:01).

The project is expected to go ahead regardless of the effect a conflict in Iraq may have on regional air traffic. British Airways, which is the biggest international airline flying into Seeb, has temporarily suspended its flights to Muscat as part of its revised schedule for the Gulf.

However, BA’s decision could be offset by a number of smaller airlines rerouting regional services via Seeb. Royal Jordanian Airlines, KLMof the Netherlands, Bahrain-based Gulf Airand Italy’s Alitaliahave all requested landing slots at the airport in the event of a conflict in Iraq shutting down airspace in the northern Gulf.

According to the latest figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority, attempts to attract more visitors to the sultanate have so far failed to meet the expected targets. In 2002, the number of visitors using Seeb fell by 10 per cent to just 2.4 million passengers (MEED 28:2:03; Cover Story).