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GCC spends $43b on airport projects

By Issac John (Deputy Business Editor) / 28 May 2008

DUBAI — Capitalising on record oil-generated surpluses and an ideal geographic location, GCC countries are investing $43 billion in various airport projects and expansion of existing facilities.

According to a latest study, across the Middle East, South Asia and Africa region, more than $68 billion is being invested in various airport projects in the Gulf, Jordan, Iraq, India, Sri Lanka and across the African continent.

   Khalifa Al Zaffin, Executive Chairman, Dubai World Central, said heading the list of mega projects is the $10 billion new Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport, the construction of which is progressing as scheduled.  The six-runway airport is designed to become the largest airport in the world and handling 120 million passengers annually. This is followed by the development of Abu Dhabi International Airport at an investment of $6.8 billion and Qatar’s $5.5 billion New Doha International Airport.  Zaffin said the Dubai World Central will have a special facility to cater to low cost carriers.

  Kuwait also has begun a $2.1 billion airport expansion project, while Bahrain is spending some $335 million on expanding its existing facility.

  Other major developments include Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz, Madinah and Tabuk Airports at a total cost of $11.3 billion, along with the modernisation of smaller airports in India at $4 billion, and further projects worth $3.5 billion and $2 billion respectively in Libya and Baghdad, Zaffin said while announcing the Airport show which is lining a record number of 600 suppliers from 40 countries. The show, opening on June 2 at the Airport Expo, is draw over 6,000 visitors, according to show’s organisers, Streamline Marketing Group.

   According to EFG-Hermes investment bank aviation analyst Abid Riaz,  the region is trying to catch up with the worldwide development of air travel on the back of record-high oil prices. "Oil receipts have inflated the coffers of GCC countries, allowing their governments to embark on grand infrastructure projects.

    Oman also has announced a $3 billion plan to expand two existing airports, in addition to building three new ones. Muscat’s Seeb International Airport will be able to handle 12 million passengers in 2010, compared to 4.7 million in 2006.

  He said the total spend by Dubai, which has established itself as a regional business and tourism hub, on various airport projects is nearing $15 billion on airport projects. It is building a third terminal and two new concourses at its airport. This $4.5 billion expansion is expected to be complete by 2009 to enable the airport to handle up to 70 million passengers annually.

  Abu Dhabi has embarked on a project to expand its airport capacity to handle 40 million passengers annually.

  Qatar's a new airport will have a capacity to handle 60 million passengers in 2020. The first stage of the new Doha International Airport is scheduled to be complete by the end of this year, while Qatar’s national carrier, Qatar Airways,  is one course to more than double its young fleet to 110 aircraft by 2015.

   The Airport Show is held under the patronage of Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman, Dubai Airports. The show has become a well established forum for the selection and pre-qualification of suppliers and contractors for airport developments across the region and this year more than 100 civil aviation authorities and airports will be represented.

  The inaugural Future Airports conference, from  June 2-3 will include a keynote session on current airport projects across the region, led by Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports, Khalifa Al Zaffin, Inderjit Singh, Senior Vice-President, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise and Andreas Schimm, Director, Economics and Programme Development, Airports Council International.

  The conference will also address airspace management, financing of future airports and the environmental implications of airport expansion. The Air Traffic Control, Aviation Security and Ground Handling conferences will highlight new trends and technology, and the challenges associated with increasing passenger and cargo traffic.

 “We are delighted that the Airport Show continues to grow in line with the strong demand for airport suppliers and contractors in this region,” said Streamline Marketing Group’s Louisa Theobald. “The four specialist conferences on the exhibitor floor will add a new dimension to the show and provide the world’s leading airport representatives with a chance to debate important industry issues.”

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