Expansion of airports on track: GACA chief
Work on developing and modernizing the Kingdom’s 27 airports is ongoing and is expected to be completed within the next five years, according to Sulaiman Al-Hamdan, president of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA).
“Our goal is that our airports should be in a position worthy of the Kingdom’s status, and that the best level of services is offered, and therefore our goal is to complete such developments so these airports can have increased capacity,” he said.
As for King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz airport in Jazan, he said the aim is to establish an entirely new airport with a capacity far greater than the current facility. The budget was approved for the project, in addition to the bidding process, but it has been temporarily stopped as Aramco’s studies suggest the selected location for the project may present an opportunity to explore for oil and gas.
“We are still in discussions with officials at Aramco and actually our approach is to look for another suitable location to establish the airport,” said Al-Hamdan. “We have another choice, which is to develop the current airport and expand it to the same capacity set for the new airport, as we do not want to delay the project more than necessary.
Ultimately, the research and exploration efforts by Aramco are good for the Kingdom, and for Jazan in particular.”
In addition to Saudi Arabian Airlines and Nas Airlines, both of which currently operate in the Kingdom, Al-Hamdan said here are three other airlines— Al-Maha, Saudi Gulf and Nesma— that have been given a preliminary license and that are completing technical and operational procedures to obtain the final license.
Regarding expensive ticket prices, he said there is a plan to liberalize prices over the next four to five years, so as to guarantee fair competition and set prices according to supply and demand. “We expect that this will change the travel culture through the provision of mechanisms currently applied by international airlines that center around getting lower or higher prices depending on the booking and travel date.” “The current prices applied on domestic airlines will be the minimum,” he said.