Airlines ready for shift to Jeddah’s new airport

The move is expected to reduce crowding, particularly during the holiday season

Airlines at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport South Terminal will begin moving to the city’s new airport on a trial basis before the end of the year, according to reports.

Saudi Gazette cited sources as saying Saudi Arabian Airlines’ domestic terminal and other operations would be shifted to the new King Abdulaziz International Airport in the coming months.

Familiarisation training for staff is currently being planned and the new airport is in the final stages of construction with testing of key systems including conveyer belts, the shuttle system and lighting currently underway.

The new facility is spread across 105 square kilometres and features a 136m air traffic control tower, 3,000-person capacity mosque, 220 service counters 80 self-service counters and parking for 8,200 vehicles.

The expansion work also includes a SAR350m ($93.3m) Saudia facility designed to increase the airline’s number of flights from 500 to 1,000 a day.

The move is expected to reduce crowding, particularly during the holiday season.

Earlier this week, it was announced that King Abdulaziz International Airport received 31 million passengers in 2016, a 3 per cent increase on 2015.

This included 15.9 miliion in the south terminal, 6.7 million in the north terminal and 8 million in the Haj terminal.

The airport is expected to exceed the 31 million figure this year, with 600,000 Umrah passengers already.

The airport’s general manager said it had exceeded its capacity by at least three times due to the growing number of Umrah pilgrims.