The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has dismissed negative ratings received by King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah through an online survey, calling the report “unscientific”.
KAIA was ranked the world’s worst airport, second only to Benazir Bhutto airport in Islamabad, Pakistan by a website called A Guide to Sleeping In Airports last week.
GACA’s spokesman Khalid Al-Khaibari said that the assessment was not credible since it was not based on a study or specific standards.
He added that the website rated airports which were best to sleep in, while the Kingdom’s airports were facilities to just pass through.
“We respectfully look at other opinions even if they are personal,” Al-Khaibari was quoted as saying in Arab News.
“King Abdul Aziz International Airport has all the services needed. We don’t deny there are some negatives that we hope will be removed when the new airport begins operating in the middle of next year,” he said.
Ratings given by the readers of the website were based mainly on four categories including comfort, convenience, cleanliness and customer service.
“The main terminal is fairly lackluster. It isn’t overly clean, crowds can be a problem, and the services for travelers are in short supply,” the website wrote following the readers’ poll.
“Rude immigration officers and lengthy queues do little to improve the traveler experience. Chairs are limited, uncomfortable … Things might improve in mid-2015 when a new airport is expected to be completed.”
Jeddah’s KAIA is undergoing massive expansion to deal with the rising number of travellers.
The new KAIA project in Jeddah will include a twin crescent-shaped 670,000 sqm passenger terminal complex, 46 contact gates, 94 boarding bridges, including double deck A380 access, lounges, an airside hotel and catering and retail facilities.
It will also include a transportation centre with an integrated rail station, over 60 km of belts to handle luggage, and a network on other transport facilities.
The project’s masterplan includes development in three phases to 2035, with phase 1 expected to increase the airport’s capacity from 13 to 30 million annual passengers. When fully complete, the airport’s final capacity is slated to reach up to 80 million passengers per year.
Saudi Arabia is also investing heavily to develop its airport infrastructure and increase visitor capacity to accommodate a growing influx of religious and business tourists.
Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport’s expansion project is set to boost capacity to 35 million passengers annually in its first phase and 47 million in the second phase. The project is set for completion in 2017.
Meanwhile, the Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah and airports in Jazan, Bha, Qassim Arar, Al Jouf and Yanbu are also currently undergoing expansion work.
By 2020, Saudi Arabia’s airports are expected to have the combined capacity to handle over 100 million travellers.