Bahrain Review Airport flying high to 10m passengers by 2010 November 2003 429 Travellers flock to Bahrain Airport’s Duty Free. More than 10 million passengers will pass through Bahrain International Airport (BIA) annually by 2010, it was revealed at an international conference yesterday. Last year, the Bahrain airport handled 4.16 million passengers, and the figures will reach 4.5 million this year, said Civil Aviation Affairs Assistant Under-Secretary for Airport Services Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulaziz Al Khalifa.“By 2010, healthy estimates have placed Bahrain’s passenger traffic at over 10 million, indicating that we are one of the fastest growing airports in the region,” he said in a keynote address at the MEED’s first Middle East Airport Projects conference at the Gulf Hotel.Conference chairman and MEED editorial director Edmund O’Sullivan, in his welcome address, described Bahrain as a dynamic aviation and service base and one of the best places in the world for global managers to live and work.In order to maintain BIA’s current status as a premium quality airport, it will need investment, planning and above all, vision, said Shaikh Hisham.“Short and long-term expansion projects are now being implemented under the umbrella of our 20-year vision to be a fully integrated premium focal point for tourism, industry and commerce,” he said. “The new duty free complex’s internationally renowned diversity and style is an example of the first class quality we intend for the entire terminal.“A new premium check-in lounge has been completed, offering exclusive services to the premium passengers.“A new complex of new airline lounges is currently under construction.” To further increase passenger capacity, said Shaikh Hisham, the airport is close to completing the construction of a new coaching station, which will vastly increase the passenger flow - adding four gates to the airport.“We have also recently completed the construction of additional cargo aprons and an executive apron to increase our capacity, which will also assist us with the anticipated visitors for the Formula One Grand Prix next year,” he noted.On projects under construction, Shaikh Hisham said work on an emergency runway, to maintain uninterrupted traffic flow, would be completed at a cost of $26 million.A total of 2.6km of the current taxiway has been widened to 45 m, the pavement has been reinforced and lighting changed. The new control tower is being constructed at a cost of $6 million.Air transport improvements come from both the public and the private sector, and BIA represents a union of the two, said Shaikh Hisham.Bahrain Airport Services has contributed significantly to infrastructure related to its operation such as an engineering facility, ramp operation facility, cargo terminal, in-flight catering building and a new first class lounge.DHL has built a major customised distribution centre for its Middle East operations, while Global Logistics is currently building a new cargo distribution facility.An executive aircraft terminal has been built by Bexair, providing executive and VIP quality air travel, said Shaikh Hisahm.Plans are currently underway to build a major retail and leisure complex connected to the passenger terminal that will include multi-storey car parking extension, offices, shops and food courts.“Our boldest development in the foreseeable future, however, is the construction of a new satellite terminal to complement the existing passenger terminal,” said Shaikh Hisham. “A far greater number of gates and aircraft parking bays will be available, capacity will increase significantly in terms of check-in lounges, and baggage reclaim areas,” he said. “Other improvements include the apron expansion from 21 stands to 25, where two stands are capable of handling very large aricraft. The air bridges will be doubled.”Shaikh Hisham said a new airport hotel is also nearing completion, and it would provide a complete platform for leisure and commercial passengers and offer a one-stop access point to Bahrain and the Gulf region.CAA Under-Secretary Captain Abdulrahman Al Gaoud, who opened the two-day event, said BIA, under the guidance of Bahrain’s leaders, had not only become one of the leading “hub” airports in the region but is also at the forefront of presenting the warm and friendly image of the people of Bahrain to an international audience worldwide.