New Madinah airport’s test operations launched

A Saudi Arabian Airlines from Riyadh was the first to ever land in the new facility

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A Saudi Arabian Airlines domestic flight coming from Riyadh landed at 11 a.m. Sunday at the new Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, marking the start of the airport’s test run operations.

Flight SV1435 was the first to land at the airport. Another aircraft, flight SV1476, then took off at 11:45 a.m., the first ever to take off from the new facility. The trial operations were to start last week but were postponed by a sandstorm that hit various parts of the country and led to the suspension of domestic and international flights.

Most of the flights will be operating from the new airport while some will be operating from the old premises, as both the facilities will be operational with the passengers intimated which airport they would be landing or taking off.

“We want the test run to be a complete success,” the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said.

GACA said the trial operation of the airport would run for a limited period of time until its formal launch. “The test run aims to assess the readiness of all systems, tools and organs as a prelude for the commercial operation of the airport, which will have an annual capacity of 8 million passengers in the first phase,” GACA said.

A number of government and private bodies have already established their offices and branches in the airport as part of preparations for its official launch. Officials of these organizations said the airport has been built according to the highest international standards and specifications that will facilitate the arrival and departure of passengers.

Saudia, on its part, said it has completed the establishment of its offices and supplied it with the required cadres to process the passports of passengers.

Abdul Fattah Mohammed Atta, director of the new airport, said the facility would serve residents, visitors and pilgrims.

The airport, occupying an area of 4 million square meters, has been built at a cost of about $1.4 billion. It consists of arrival and departure lounges built on an area of 153,000 square meters. It has 16 gates connected to 32 jet bridges allowing passengers to board and disembark from aircraft without having to go outside. The director said the airport's current annual capacity is 8 million passengers, a figure that will increase to 12 million when it is officially inaugurated.

He added that the airport could receive up to 160 aircraft of various types every day and provide passengers with top services. The airport has 64 travel desks that will increase by a further 16 during the peak times in Ramadan and Hajj. It has 10 luggage conveyors. The airport has six waiting halls with a combined area of 10,500 square meters and a parking lot for 200 Haj buses.

The airport's building has obtained the internationally recognized certificate of Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED). It was the first airport outside the U.S. to obtain this high rating.

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