Airport Construction in Gulf region
GCC expansions driven by demand
THE current decade will go down in the annals of the Gulf region as the most dynamic for its transport infrastructure sector with a myriad of road, rail, airport and even port projects being put forward and actively pursued.
The aviation segment in particular has been the most vibrant over the recent past; for instance, in the first five months of this year alone it accounted for the bulk of contracts, valued at $5 billion, awarded in the region’s transportation sector.
Strategically positioned between the East and West, airports in the Gulf have been witnessing surging numbers of business, leisure and transit passengers.
The Middle East saw the biggest rise in international passenger growth in 2011, recording an 11.9 per cent year-on-year increase followed by Europe with 9.5 per cent rise and Latin America at nine per cent rise, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Given these figures and the fact that GCC airports are running at an average 92 per cent passenger capacity utilisation – with Saudi Arabia operating at 130 per cent capacity – as per statistics released by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), the need to expand is obviously pressing.
The GCC states have ambitions not only to boost capacities but also to set up airport cities, plans for which have been pioneered in the region by Dubai with Dubai World Central (DWC) aviation and logistics hub.
In line with these plans, major airport projects have been launched over the past year along with other key developments across the Gulf, where an estimated investment of $90 billion is envisaged over the next few years.
Each and every Gulf state now has plans in hand or under way to expand its airport infrastructure. Among the largest projects to take off is the award of a much-awaited contract – estimated at $3 billion – to construct the Midfield Terminal Complex as part of the expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport in the UAE.
Meanwhile, the most anticipated event of the year in the aviation industry is the much-delayed launch of the showpiece New Doha International Airport in Qatar, which is scheduled for a memorable opening date of 12.12.12. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told media during the Arabian Travel Market (April 30 to May 3) in Dubai, UAE, that the date was slated for NDIA’s launch, although full operations are most likely to start from early next year.