(MENAFN - Arab News) The capacity of Riyadh's King Khaled International Airport is expected to triple when expansion work that is set to begin in November will be completed in three years, senior officials of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) said here yesterday.
GACA Vice President Faisal Al-Sugair said preliminary studies and design work for the development and expansion of the Riyadh airport have been completed and the construction work will begin soon.
Opening the first specialized conference and exhibition on aviation services and logistic support at airports at the Jeddah Conferences and Events Center, Al-Sugair also disclosed GACA's plans to implement mega development projects in the near future to further expand its network of 28 airports that handle about 54.5 million passengers a year.
About 100 local and international companies in the aviation field are displaying their products and services at the exhibition organized on the sidelines of the conference.
The exhibition, titled "Airports, Aviation and Logistic Services," provides a strategic platform for those who intend to invest in aviation, airports,and logistic services at airports.
The specialized conference, the first of its kind in the Kingdom, is organized at a time when Saudi Arabia has adopted an ambitious plan to develop infrastructure projects for communications.
"The new King Abdulaziz International Airport Jeddah is expected to be operational in 2014 and its capacity would rise to 30 million passengers a year with the completion of the first phase of the project," Al-Sugair said. The new airport is estimated to cost SR 27 billion.
The Saudi government is planning multi-billion dollar projects to expand capacity of its airports in the face of rising demand.
Referring to the expansion of Riyadh airport, GACA spokesman Khaled Al-Khaibary said: "The expansion work will include the construction of a new terminal, Terminal 5, which will start within six months and is expected to be completed by November 2013 and expansion of existing terminals 3 and 4, which are currently in the design phase."
GACA has invited proposals for the design and project management packages of terminals 3 and 4. Proposals are expected by mid June and construction work is expected to start next year.
The airport's capacity would increase to 25 million passengers after completion of the first phase of expansion by the end of 2015, Khaibary said.
Addressing the two-day Jeddah aviation event, Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines Khaled Al-Molhem drew attention to the expectation of experts that there would be a tremendous growth in the air transport industry in the coming years despite the great odds facing the sector due to an increase in the operational costs and stiffening of competition. "This would also spur the demand for aircraft that could reach 33,500 until the year 2030," he said quoting a report from the Boeing Company.
The Saudia chief also highlighted the efforts of the national carrier to increase the flight services and take advantage of its new fleet.