Saudi Arabia launches Madinah airport project

It is Kingdom’s first airport constructed and operated entirely by the private sector

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Saudi Arabia's King Salman opened the new Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport at a grand ceremony here Thursday night.

Heralding a new era of public–private partnership in the Kingdom’s aviation history, the iconic project, spread over an area of 4 million sq. meter, is the Kingdom’s first airport constructed and operated entirely by the private sector.

Upon arrival at the venue of the launching ceremony at the airport, King Salman was received by Prince Faisal Bin Salman, emir of Madinah, Suleiman Al-Hamdan, president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), and other dignitaries.

The King then toured the facilities of the airport, and was briefed by GACA chief about the facilities including the passport control and check in counters, duty free zone, food court, and departure gates.

The King pressed the button to mark the opening of the airport saying: “In the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful… I am honored to be with you this night in the City of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the second holy city of Madinah.

Praise be to Allah, what we are seeing here is delightful and reminds us of the founder of this nation.” While drawing attention to the occasion of naming the airport after Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz, the King recalled the immense contributions rendered by the prince after he was appointed as the emir of Madinah by King Abdulaziz, a position which he assumed for a long period of time.

The King also watched a video presentation about the airport project, which has the capacity to handle eight million passengers a year in the first phase, and this figure will be increased to 18 million in the second phase, and then 40 million after the third and final phase.

GACA Chief Al-Hamdan said that the new airport is the first facility in the Kingdom that was built with the partnership of the private sector.

“This is the fruit of partnership of GACA with a consortium led by Tibah Airports Development Co. and consisting of Al-Rajhi Holding Group, Saudi Oger and TAV Airports Holding.

Ever since the upgrading of the airport into an international one 10 years ago, the airport has witnessed steady growth in the passenger traffic with operation of 36 aviation companies and this number would rise to 45 during the Haj season,” he said.

The Tibah-led consortium won the bid for the construction of the airport in 2011 on the basis of build, transfer and operate (BTO) with the GACA.

The total investment in the first phase is SR4.5 billion and the project was funded by the National Commercial Bank, Saudi British Bank and Arab National Bank under the supervision of the International Finance Authority, a member of the World Bank Group.

Al-Hamdan said the airport represents a milestone, which reflects the cultural heritage of Madinah. The main passenger terminal covers an area of 155,000 sq. meters and has 72 check-in counters, of which eight are for large size baggage, 24 counters for self-check-in, 26 passports counter for departures and the same number for arrivals.

The waiting lounge has a capacity for 4,000 people. Technology-based services include 36 elevators, 28 escalators and 23 conveyor belts, all in place to facilitate and speed up the movement of passengers and luggage inside the passenger terminal complex.

Six external terminals have been built over a total area of 10,000 sq. meters. These terminals are strategically located close to the Haj terminal to facilitate and speed up procedures for arrivals and departures.

Al-Hamdan said it is the first facility in the world outside America to abide by the standards for energy use stipulated by the United States Green Building Council.