Projected growth in regional airport passenger numbers in coming years is prompting Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to ramp up airport expansion and construction projects. More than US$100 billion in airport projects are either underway or in the pipeline across GCC countries.
With the International Air Transport Association projecting Middle East passengers to grow by 4.9 percent per year to 2034, the six-nation GCC bloc of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE are in a major airport expansion and construction drive.
In a short-term solution, before a larger expansion projects gets finalized, Kuwait is building a new terminal at the country’s international airport to meet growing congestion at its current facilities. The new terminal, expected to become operational by early 2017, is planned to handle five million passengers a year and will raise the capacity of Kuwait International Airport to 10 million passengers per year.
The proposed terminal is a stop-gap arrangement designed to cater to increasing traffic while a much larger expansion project, which will boost capacity to 25 million passengers a year, gets underway.
In the UAE, the planned Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport is expected to cater to the 40 million passengers expected by 2017. Meanwhile, Dubai International Airport remains the world’s busiest international airport, and Al Maktoum International Airport is set to have one of the world’s largest capacities at 160 million annual passengers.