AIN Online - Peter Shaw-Smith

Saudi Arabia has become the focus of airport development in the Middle East as it seeks to drive income from tourism from 3.8 percent in 2019 to 10 percent of GDP by 2030. 

Aiming to triple the aviation sector’s contribution to the economy to $74.6 billion by 2030, Saudi Arabia has set key targets to extend connectivity to 250-plus destinations across 29 airports; triple annual passenger traffic to 330 million versus around 100 million carried in 2019; increase air cargo volume to 4.5  million tons (from 0.8 million tons today); and add two global long-haul connecting hubs, the investment bank said. Jeddah and Riyadh stand in pole position to serve as such axes.

Toward the end of last year, Saudi Arabia launched a master plan to expand and modernize King Salman International Airport (KSIA) in Riyadh. Meanwhile, an expansion plan to increase capacity to 114 million passengers per year by 2030 at Jeddah Airport drew an investment of more than $30 billion, Riyadh-based Al Jazira Capital said in a September note. The kingdom plans to privatize the airports in Abha, Taif, Hail, and Qassim.

British architects Foster & Partners won a competition to design the master plan for KSIA last November. 

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