Saudi Arabia to start privatizing airports next year

General Authority of Civil Aviation

Saudi Arabia will begin privatizing its airports and related services in the first quarter of 2016, the country’s civil aviation authority said on Sunday.

“The privatization program comes in line with the Kingdom’s plan to improve the productive efficiency of airport systems and ease the financial burden on (the) state budget,” Sulaiman Al-Hamdan, chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), said in the statement.

King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh will be the first asset to be privatized in the first quarter next year.

Air traffic control and information technology units will follow in the second and third quarters respectively, the statement said.

Other units at the country’s international airports, as well as local and regional airports, will also be privatized according to a schedule to run up until 2020, the statement said.

Saudi Arabia has privatized units of the national airline in recent years. Saudi Airlines Catering Co. and Saudi Ground Services Co. have been listed on the stock market and the cargo unit is expected to be next.

The Kingdom has been investing heavily in aviation infrastructure to back the industry’s expansion plans, including building multi-billion dollar projects to expand capacity at the country’s airports. According to GACA 2014 statistics, the latest on its website, there are 27 airports in the Kingdom of which four — in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah — are international.


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