JEDDAH: Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, laid the foundation stone for the new King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) project on Tuesday and said the project is a gift from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to Saudis and foreign pilgrims.Prince Sultan watched a presentation on the project that will increase the airport’s capacity from 17 million to 30 million passengers. The new airport is designed in the form of two crescents to reflect its position as the main gateway to the two holy mosques.Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, assistant minister of defense and aviation, said the new airport would have advanced facilities. “The amount allocated for the project is not huge compared to the facilities it would have and similar airports in other parts of the world,” he told reporters.He said the first phase of the project, which includes construction of a new terminal with 94 aircraft bays, 46 departure gates, five passenger lounges, 96 airway bridges and a 56-room hotel for transit passengers, would be completed in 36 months.He emphasized the General Authority of Civil Aviation’s new strategy to add economic value to its airports by operating them on a commercial basis and offering a lot of investment projects to the private sector. “The KAIA will be made a central hub in the region to boost air traffic,” he pointed out.
Abdullah Rehaimi, president of GACA, said the new airport project, estimated to cost more than SR27 billion in the first phase, would be financed by KAIA’s present and future revenues.Prince Sultan signed two contracts worth SR27.1 billion with Saudi Binladin Group last November to carry out the KAIA expansion project.“The project aims at making the KAIA a high-tech airport that can receive huge aircraft and be a hub to link the East and the West providing numerous investment opportunities and jobs for Saudis,” said Rehaimi.As part of the first contract, worth SR15.12 billion, a 670,000-square-meter terminal with 94 aircraft bays will be constructed to replace the present terminals for Saudia and foreign airlines.The second contract — worth SR11.97 billion — covers construction of the world’s tallest air-traffic control tower at 133 meters, parking lots to accommodate 8,200 vehicles, three power generation and cooling centers, data administration centers, infrastructure and road networks – Arabnews