Saudi to privatise airports this year

The kingdom is aiming to make its airport operations profitable



Saudi Arabia will begin efforts to privatise all of its airports this year in a bid to provide better returns, according to reports.

Arabic daily Aleqtesadiah quoted the head of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) Abdul Hakim Al-Tamimi as saying the organisation would transfer all Saudi airports to companies wholly owned by Saudi Civil Aviation Holding Co.

Following this, the ownership of the holding company will be transferred to sovereign wealth fund the Public Investment Fund for privatisation.

Al-Tamimi said the authority wanted to “improve the level of services provided to passengers, and to convert the targeted sectors into a profitable centre to cover costs and to be a source of income for the owner”.

The privatisation process is expected to come through minority stake sales that result in the formation of an airport board of directors, similar to that reportedly underway for King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh.

Read: Saudi hires Goldman for Riyadh airport’s stake sale

Other alternatives include operation and maintenance contracts similar to the 20-year deal awarded to Singapore’s Changi Airport Group in May that will see GACA bear the cost of establishing the project and share income with investors.

Read: Saudi awards Jeddah airport contract to Singapore’s Changi

While a third method will be under the build, operate and transfer system being utilised at Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Airport and others planned at Taif, Hail, Qassim and Yanbu.

The privatisation process will be completed in stages with different airport groups, the GACA head said.

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