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King Abdul Aziz International Airport
KAIA - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, began a new project in 2000 to increase the comfort, satisfaction and service levels provided to travellers in the airport, as well as enabling the airport to be able to cope with increased traffic.

The existing southern terminal will need to serve about 21 million passengers per year over the next 20 years to meet growing demand at the airport. Prince Sultan noted that the project would use the highest technology available to bring the airport utilities in line with the latest developments.

King Abdul Aziz Airport is the gateway to Saudi Arabia for a large number of pilgrims. The airport is close to the cities of Mecca and Medina, two of the holiest sites in Islam. During the 2005 Hajj (pilgrimage) season it received 3.5 million travellers and around two million pilgrims.

The airport has to provide the facilities required for the service of pilgrims and those who visit the country to perform Umrah. The north terminal is used by the various international airlines that fly into the airport. The south terminal is reserved for Saudi Arabian Airlines flights only.



The Hajj Terminal (built when the airport was first opened in 1981) is used only during the Hajj season, and it caters to Makkah (Mecca) bound passengers only. A substantial part of that airlines international and domestic operations fly from King Abdul Aziz International Airports south terminal.

THE HAJJ TERMINAL, King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah Saudi Arabia

The Hajj Terminal is estimated to be five million square feet (465,000m), the worlds second largest air terminal, after Hong Kong International Airports terminal. It sits in over 100ac (405,000m) of ground area, and it is known for its tent-shaped roof.

Terminal 3s roof is not actually a tent, but a white coloured PTFE-coated fibreglass membrane (one of the largest structures of its type in the world). This terminal has a mosque, and it can accommodate 80,000 travellers at the same time.

Geiger Berger Associates, Schlaich, Bergermann und Partner sbp GmbH and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill were the structural engineers for the project. Hochtief AG was the general contractor. Nippon Kokan was responsible for the steel work and Birdair Inc provided the membrane material.


The Royal Terminal was completed in 2003 and is a completely self-contained terminal for the exclusive use of the King of Saudi Arabia, other members of the Royal family, and their personal guests, including visiting Heads of State.

The facility and its large parade grounds are designed to handle state functions, ceremonies and international events. The building is divided into three zones. A reception hall characterised by a high tent-shaped ceiling, clad on the exterior with a copper roof, occupies the centre zone. It separates the administration, press and VIP womens areas to the north from the Royal suite, lounges and VIP mens areas to the south.


The current project includes construction of two new terminals, one for international and one for domestic passengers, and extension of the existing Southern terminal, for international and VIP use, with passageways connecting the terminals.

The expansion will include gold-coloured crescent-shaped roofs, and internal gardens and walkways.

In addition, there will be a new concourse with 25 gates, three connector buildings and an extensive upgrade of landside and airside infrastructure facilities.

A new two-storey car park will accommodate 5,700 cars, and 25 passenger bridges will connect departure and arrival lounges directly with aircraft. Distinguishing features of the architectural style will be gold-coloured crescent-shaped roofs and internal gardens and walkways.

By the end of the project, the airports annual passenger capacity is expected to have increased from 13 million to 21 million. As Abdullah Ruhaimy, head of the Presidency of Civil Aviation (PCA), has said, The project is designed to accommodate the new generation of large aircraft. Emirates Airlines alone has 45 A380s on order for delivery between 2006 and 2008.

The project is now progressing well as the authorities are keen for King Abdul Aziz to be a serious competitor for Dubai International as the regions main hub for cargo and passengers. The southern terminal extension was completed in mid 2005 and will just require a small amount of work to integrate it with the new terminals when they are completed.


King Abdul Aziz International Airport, which was first opened in 1981, has been under expansion since the project was announced in September 2000.

Due to designs and planning taking longer than usual the main expansion project construction activities were not started properly until 2003. Funding was no problem, with the expansion programme being awarded SAR2bn ($530m) in 2000.

The Saudi Civil Aviation Authority signed a $1.5 billion agreement with Bechtel-Saudi Arabia and Dar Al-Riyadh for the expansion of the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah in 2003. Work started in the second quarter of 2004 and the expansion is scheduled for completion by the final quarter of 2010.


A design services contract was signed by the Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO), a Dutch consultant company specialising in airports, in 2001.

NACO carried out designs for the complete renovation of the existing station hall, two new passenger terminals for domestic and international arrivals, and a docking pier with 32 passenger gangways linking the terminals with aircraft. The designs were completed in February 2002. The contract also included some ground water studies and financial appraisal.

The expansion is scheduled for completion by the final quarter of 2010.


The airport has two parallel runways, both 4,000m long, in addition to taxiways parallel to the runways. A distance of 2,146m separates the two runways to facilitate simultaneous takeoff and landing operations by aircraft as large as the A380.

Provision has been made for the construction of a third parallel runway if a requirement for an increase in operations capacity arises.

A road for Ground Support Equipment (GSE) runs along the western side of the central terminal and is designed to allow access to aircraft and to facilitate the movement of baggage vehicles. Studies are underway to determine if the specification of the runways is sufficient for the extra weight of the A380




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