Saudi Arabia to launch new airport PPP

The international hub will serve pilgrims to Mecca in the nearby city of Taif, complementing the Jeddah and Madinah airports.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) is planning to build a new international airport in Taif, close to Mecca.

The new hub will add further air transport capacity to the existing hubs of Jeddah and Madinah, which serve several million pilgrims coming each year to the holy city.

The project, planned to be developed on a build, finance, operation, maintenance and transfer basis, was approved by GACA on 7 May. The body intends to award the concession in the first half of 2015.

It has teamed up with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, to streamline the tender process and attract bids from both domestic and international contenders.

The news follows the financial close reached by the Madinah airport expansion PPP last year, a $1.2 billion project due to be completed by the first half of 2015. The winning consortium, which was awarded a 25-year, build-transfer-operate concession, comprised Turkey’s TAV Airports and Saudi-based Saudi Oger Limited and Al Rajhi Holding Group.

Taif already counts a smaller-scale airport, located 30 kilometres from the city and 70 kilometres away from Mecca. The platform got promoted to regional status in 2009 when GACA granted international airlines licences to operate at the airport in an effort to redirect traffic from the country’s three main hubs.