Air Arabia’s self-effacing CEO Adel al-Ali tends to start a presentation by saying he had to borrow a tie for the day since “low-cost carriers” do not customarily wear a tie.

While there is an excellent story behind wearing or not wearing a tie, there is hardly an excuse for not upgrading the Sharjah International airport, home to the region’s most successful low-cost carrier, sooner.

Granted, the airport is more passenger-friendly than Kuwait International and many times more navigable than the sprawling Dubai International airport during peak hours.

However, anyone who has been to the airport in recent years would agree that the existing terminal urgently needs to be upgraded. Factors that could improve airport services include increasing the number of check-in and immigration counters and setting up more food and drink outlets, among others.

Indeed the approval of the airport’s $400m expansion budget is probably one of the best news so far in terms of the emirate’s infrastructure building programme.

Passenger traffic at the airport has been growing at a compounded average of close to 10 per cent annually in recent years. As of end 2016, passenger traffic has overtaken the airport’s capacity of 8 million passengers annually by a good 3 million.

The emirate’s population has also been growing rapidly due to its more affordable real-estate rents compared to Dubai.

No doubt a new airport will serve not only to boost the operations of Air Arabia, which carried 8.4 million passengers in 2016, but will have a significant positive impact to Sharjah’s economy. The emirate after all is being positioned as the UAE’s cultural centre since it hosts some of the country’s most important museums and archaeological sites.