Region's airports set for massive $119bn expansion


By Nadrn El Ajou

Serving as hubs for three rapidly expanding major airlines and at least as many mid-size ones, the airports of the GCC countries are seeing larger and larger numbers of passengers pass through their gates annually.

Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Epoc Messe Frankfurt, organiser of Intersec.
Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Epoc Messe Frankfurt, organiser of Intersec.

This continuous increase in passenger numbers has led to increased security dilemmas and a growing demand for more efficient passenger processing systems to keep these transport hubs functioning smoothly.

Passenger traffic in the GCC has grown at a CAGR of 10% between 2002 and 2010, significantly higher than the global average of between 1% and 3%. With airports around the region feeling the pressure of handling growing passenger numbers, ambitious expansion plans worth $119bn have been put in place in order to meet projected demand. On the cards are new terminals and cargo handling complexes as well as extensions to existing facilities around the region.

Dubai is currently executing its planned investment of $7.73bn (Dhs28.4bn) to implement the fourth phase of Dubai Airport expansion and increase its capacity to over 90 million passengers annually to meet the future growth needs. Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) is ploughing in a similar amount to expand annual capacity to 40 million passengers. Even the smaller UAE airports are investing in order to boost facilities and expansion. Sharjah plans to spend $136m (Dhs500m), while Fujairah has set aside $43.5m (Dhs160m).

Saudi Arabia is set to invest approximately $7.35bn (SR27bn) on new airport projects while in Oman, both the Muscat and Salalah airports are being developed at a total cost of $326m (OR125.7m) to handle 48 and 10 million passengers annually. Ongoing expansion in Doha and planned enhancement of passenger handling capacity in Kuwait are also expected to enhance the region’s passenger throughput. More info