Privatised Seeb airport aims to become regional hub


Muscat's Seeb International Airport aims to become a regional hub following its recent privatisation, says a report.

The airport, which will be developed at a cost of RO74 million ($192 million), aims to become a crucial link for destinations in the Indian sub-continent, East Africa and Indian Ocean states.

A consortium of British Airports Authority (BAA), Oman's Bahwan Trading Company (BTC) and ABB Equity Ventures was awarded a 25-year concession to operate the Seeb and Salalah airports earlier this month under the government's privatisation programme.

BAA has said that under the 25-year contract, it and its partners would take a 75 per cent stake in the privatised company.

The new company would invest 130 million pounds ($190.2 million) in developing the airports' facilities, mainly the construction of a new terminal at Seeb.

"The core of the airport privatisation mandate is to build a new terminal at Seeb International Airport and develop it as a regional hub with world class facilities," said BTC general manager Alex Borges.

"The existing Seeb airport will be knocked down in four phases over the next four years to build a new terminal.

"The new airport with three levels on the airside and two levels on the landside will be able to handle 15 flights at a time, including seven of the largest Airbus A380s and three smaller aircraft."

Borges said the present landscape adjacent to Seeb airport will change totally after the development of the new terminal.

Major changes planned include new approach roads which will eliminate the Clock Tower roundabout, he added.

The approach road to the new airport will pass through an underground roundabout, Borges said.

The three existing car parks in Seeb airport will be combined in one area to facilitate parking facilities for 3,000 vehicles, he said.

The new airport will use the present runway, Borges said, adding that after five years, resurfacing works will be done on the runway. The airport will have standby space for an additional runway.

After 15 years, the second phase of expansion at Seeb International Airport will be taken up at an additional investment of RO60 million. At this stage, the terminal will be further expanded to handle 11 million passengers annually, Borges said.

The hangars will be relocated to a new site during this phase of development, he added.

The financial closure of the new company will be completed by December 31, Borges said, adding that the RO74 million required for the first phase of development will be raised on a 25:75 equity-debt ratio.

Borges assured that privatisation will not lead to any increase in airport tax paid by passengers. The revenue of Seeb International Airport in the first year of privatisation has been projected at RO5.5 million, rising to RO22 million in the 25th year.

Ground handling and cargo facilities will witness a significant improvement at both Seeb and Salalah airports, Borges said.