Leaking pipes delay airport project

Media representatives on a tour of the new airport project in Jeddah on Tuesday

Media representatives on a tour of the new airport project in Jeddah on Tuesday

Sixty-nine percent of work for the new King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah has been completed, General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) chief revealed at a press conference on Tuesday.

Fahd Bin Abdullah, the president of GACA, spoke to reporters after an elaborate media tour of the project. While stressing that 69 percent of the airport project has been finalized, he said they were facing some challenges delaying the project.

“We have invited you to see the progress of work yourself; we are seeking transparency in the media,” he said, adding that they were keen to finalize the project on time.

The work on the main airport, he said, is going smoothly. However, the challenge they faced was an unexpected leak in pipes carrying oil to different buildings around the airport.

This, he said, needs to be resolved. Also, to be on time, the contractors need to employ their workers on shift-based working hours. If these two problems are resolved, he said, they will be able to cover the one to two months delay in work. The first phase of the project is to be completed by 2015.

He said, the new airport will be equipped with all security measures. Asked whether the Jeddah sewage system, which is located not far from the airport, would affect the airport, he said that on the contrary the airport will benefit from the system being close to it as it will help increase the green zones at the airport.

He also said the aircraft maintenance will have its own location at the new airport. It will be handled by Saudi Arabian Airlines, which will be doing maintenance for its planes and other carriers. The new airport will have a specified location for the cargo for both Saudi airlines and other companies.

He added that the GACA has approved an advertising company that will be in charge of managing advertising not only inside the airport but also in the area around it. This is expected to generate income that will help in operating the airport itself. The new airport is expected to serve some 30 million passengers every year. Some 100 companies and 26,000 employees are working to finalize this project.

He also said that they are opting for three more international airports and these include: Jazan, Abha and Qassim. The King Fahd Airport in the Eastern Province will undergo some improvements as it is relatively new compared to other airports in the country. Asked about the two international carriers that have applied to operate in the country, he said one of them will start operating by early 2015.

Two buses carrying reporters, photographers and cameramen were earlier taken on a tour of the project to see what is going on inside the Jeddah new airport.

As the tour began, the media saw workers everywhere working like busy bees in groups and individually. Loads of sand and construction equipment where seen on both sides of the road.

The buses stopped at a place that will be soon the main entrance of the airport. This building includes also the first Saudi metro in this part of the country. The metro, said officials, is ready and working. However, they are still waiting for the license to operate it.

The team visited the airport hotel, which has 122 fully furnished room. They also saw passenger lounges, which are nearly complete.


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