IN the latest on the race to be the Gulf’s hub of choice, Saudi Arabia is to invest $4.8bn in Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz Airport so as to attract more business and compete with other regional airports, according to a report in Arab News.
The plan calls for the building of more terminals, with most of the work going to the private sector, according to the General Authority for Civil Aviation.
Jeddah’s airport is the major gate for international travelers into the Kingdom yet it remains behind other regional airports in the number of international scheduled flights leaving its ground.
Speaking at a Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) meet, Abdullah Ruhaimi, head of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, was quoted as saying: “Jeddah’s airport is not competing on the same level with other regional airports that are now attracting travelers from all over the region.”
Increasing the capacity of Jeddah’ airport means adding more terminals and Ruhaimi said that most of the work will be in the hands of the private sector.
The president of the GACA made it obvious that turning Jeddah’s airport into a regional hub requires also the participation of a large carrier as the official partner of the airport.
“Frankfurt’s airport is one of the major hub airports in Europe, but without the Lufthansa partnership, it would have been difficult for the airport to become hub,” Ruhaimi said, referring indirectly to the importance of the Saudi Arabian Airlines in helping the new airport to become a regional hub. The Jeddah-based airline is already using the airport as its main operational site yet experts expect more routes to be created between Jeddah and other international destinations, the paper said.
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