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Saudi to appoint new private-sector operator for Jeddah airport in 2019

Saudi to appoint new private-sector operator for Jeddah airport in 2019

Saudi’s aviation authority GACA terminated an agreement with a consortium led by Singapore’s Changi Airport in February

Saudi Arabia is set to appoint a new private-sector operator for the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah by the second half of next year, local daily Arab News reported.

The new operator will be appointed following the official inauguration of the new airport terminal, Abdul Hakim Al-Bader, assistant to the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) president for safety, security and transport, told the paper.

“The process of privatisation has already started, but I do not think that the airport will be privatised during the first half,” he said.

“We wish to appoint the managing private company by the first half of 2019, but it is most likely to happen in the second half of the year,” he added.

In February, GACA terminated a concession agreement with a consortium consisting of Singapore’s Changi Airports International and Saudi Naval Support Company to operate the Jeddah airport.

GACA had awarded the 20-year contract in April 2017. It did not give a reason for the cancellation.

Read: Saudi Arabia terminates Jeddah airport concession

Despite ending the contract, the new terminal had a soft launch in May this year, with the official opening scheduled for the first half of 2019.

Read: Jeddah’s new airport welcomes first commercial flight

The appointment of a new operator aims to increase the involvement of the private sector in the sector, Al Bader said.

“The privatisation of the airport does not mean selling it to the private sector, but only opening the door for the private sector to invest in the airport and operate it,” he told Arab News.

The new Jeddah airport is expected to boost economic development in the country when completely operational.

When fully open, the airport will operate 46 gates, and will be a “world-class resource” and “a projection of the kingdom’s ambitions to the world,” Abdulhakim Al-Tamimi, president of GACA, said earlier this year.

“The airport provides a platform that will allow the kingdom to play a greater role as a regional hub for transport and logistics services, and support the growing number of pilgrims to the two holy mosques,” he added.

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