New Jeddah airport operator ‘by second half of 2019’

Sunday, December 23, 2018

JEDDAH: A new private-sector operator of Jeddah airport will be appointed by the second half of next year, an aviation official confirmed to Arab News.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in February said it had terminated an agreement to allow a consortium consisting of Singapore’s Changi Airports International and Saudi Naval Support Company to manage King Abdul Aziz International Airport.

Abdul Hakim Al-Bader, assistant to the GACA president for safety, security and transport, said that a new operator would be appointed next year following the official inauguration of the new airport terminal.

The terminal opened earlier this year, but as a “soft launch” with a limited number of flights. 

“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,” Al-Bader said.

Saudi Arabia earlier announced plans for a massive $300 billion privatization of state assets, including a potential sale of a stake in Saudi Aramco worth as much as $100 billion.

The deal with Jeddah’s airport would not involve an outright sale of the facility, but allow a private-sector firm or consortium to invest in the airport as a partnership. 

“The process of privatization has already started, but I do not think that the airport will be privatized during the first half. However, the inauguration of the airport will be complete during the first half and an operator (from the private sector) will be selected in the second half of 2019,” Al-Bader said.

“The privatization 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.”

Passenger traffic at King Abdul Aziz International Airport reached a record 34 million in 2017, a 9.4 percent increase on 2016.