Singapore airport group wins bid to operate Jeddah’s new King Abdulaziz Airport

Sulaiman Al-Hamdan
Sulaiman Al-Hamdan

Sulaiman Al-Hamdan, transport minister and president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).

Singaporean Changi Airport Group has won a bid to operate Jeddah’s new King Abdulaziz Airport for the next 20 years, annnounced Sulaiman Al-Hamdan, transport minister and president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).

“Changi Airport Group… is an essential partner in our success and we hope it achieves the sought for goals,” Al-Hamdan told reporters at a press conference on Sunday at the new airport’s media center. He added that he is “hopeful” the new airport would “witness tangible improvement” in the services offered to travelers.

The ongoing project that was launched in January 2011 is 88 percent complete. It is set to be finalized end of 2017 and operational by mid-2018. The minister said he “hopes the airport will catch up with the Haj season of next year.”

Changi’s role becomes effective in four weeks and will be operationally and managerially focused, working alongside the contractor Saudi Binladin Group in testing and commissioning.

An evaluation of all employees will take place and there will be an estimation of the number of employees that are needed to complete the new airport. The transport minister said more employees would be needed due to its size.

“We will only accept those who are highly qualified to run the new airport. There will be recruiting campaigns for both men and women,” Al-Hamdan added.

GACA is looking to privatize airports by mid-2018. The transport minister said GACA is working toward the goal, which goes along Saudi Vision 2030 to expand privatization of government services.

Yet “the targeted airports are those with high traffic rate,” Al-Hamdan said, adding that he does not think all airports will be privatized and instead some small airports will be funded by larger ones through a specified fund.

The long-awaited Jeddah airport has been delayed as the Saudi Binladin Group halted the project for around 12 months.

“We are working at a good pace now,” the minister said adding that the 88 percent is just the average.

“We have no obstacles, whether financial or with any body or sector that is involved (in working on the project).”

Aside from winning Changi Airport Group, Malaysia Airports and Paris Airports companies were bidding to run the project.

Changi handled operating Singapore Airport as well as a number of airports in the Middle East, South America and Europe.

King Abdulaziz Airport is the Kingdom’s busiest airport as it operates 54,547 private, domestic and international flights, according to this year’s quarterly report of the air traffic data for Saudi airport. There are currently 27 operating airports in Saudi Arabia. By the end of 2020, all airports will be renovated, the transport minister said.


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