PASSENGER traffic through Bahrain International Airport was expected to reach six million by the end of 2005, compared to last year’s 5.1 million.
Statistics available up to August 2005 showed an increase of seven per cent in passenger numbers compared to the same period last year. About 3.681 million passengers passed through the airport during the first eight months of this year, compared to 3.441 million. Cargo and mail traffic also soared 15 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Aircraft movement registered a two per cent growth to 48,587 in the eight months of this year compared to 47,601 during the same period last year.
Although the average growth forecasted by International Civil Aviation Organisation (UN agency) throughout the world was 6.5 per cent in 2004, Bahrain International Airport was successful in setting records in all areas of its activity with 20 per cent increase in passengers and 27 per cent in cargo business.
To cope with soaring passenger figures, Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa has approved a massive expansion of the airport in three stages to cope. The project was given the go-ahead to preserve its competitive role as one of the region’s leading airports. The project includes development of utility services which could provide services to 15 million passengers. They include several new air-bridges linking planes with passenger lounges.
A BD70 million ($185.7 million) expansion project was unveiled in February 2005 when it was said that work on the first BD50 million phase would start early next year. The Premier said the expansion was crucial to attract more airline companies and flights in order to boost the Kingdom’s commerce and tourism. The airport was an important showcase for the Kingdom, he added. The expansion project currently planned will make Bahrain airport one of the most modern and busiest in the region. Work on the first phase will be completed in 2008, he said.
“The expansion is aimed at meeting the demand of the ever-increasing number of passengers as well as more foreign airlines operating to our airport,” said Sheikh Ali. “In line with our open-sky policy, 5.2 million passengers used the airport last year – one million more than the previous year.”
In a separate development project to be implemented by the private sector, a new car-park complex – which can take up to 4,000 cars – is also to be built at a cost of BD343 million.
Another project is the resurfacing of the existing runway at BD10.6 million ($28.12 million).
In addition, Bahrain International Airport now has five new world-class lounges – one for the First Class and Business Class passengers and the other four for VIPs and official guests. The new BD1 million ($2.65 million) Dilmun Lounge for First Class and Business Class passengers was recently opened at the airport by Sheikh Ali. The new lounge, which replaced the Dilmun Lounge on the departure area, is located on the top floor of the airport building. It complements the four lounges at the arrival area opened recently.
New check-in area for Emirates
Emirates Airline launched a new dedicated check-in area for its premium passengers at Bahrain International Airport. Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) assistant under-secretary for Airport Services, Nabeel Taqi, said the new facility reflected the outstanding services offered by Bahrain airport to international airlines.
The new check-in counters are open for Emirates’ First and Business Class passengers, and for the Gold and Silver card members of the airline’s frequent flyer programme, Skywards. Taqi praised Emirates and other international airlines for making use of the excellent services offered by the airport. “An average 600 to 800 passengers of different airlines use the First and Business Class check-in facility of our airport daily,” he said.