Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport is set to unveil its long-awaited new look at a soft opening in May, the Jeddah-based Saudi Gazette reports, citing confirmation by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and the emir of Mecca.
Once recognized by travelers as one of the worst airports in the world, Saudi Arabia’s second largest city is set to receive a much bigger facility that will consist of 82 domestic, international and VIP lounges in addition to 96 air bridges. The new airport will be able to handle “100 million passengers every year” when completed, GACA chief Abdul Hakeem Al-Tamimi said.
Saudi Arabia is looking to boost its travel and tourism sector as part its Vision 2030 social and economic reform plans. In addition to new investments in transportation infrastructure, the Kingdom hopes develop competition in the aviation sector with the privatization of state carrier Saudia and the introduction of three new airlines this year.
Saudi Arabia has spent a reported $7.2bn on the new airport.
As SUSTG reported in 2016, the new Jeddah airport will also boast a United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilty to process U.S.-bound passengers’ arrival documents before landing in the U.S. Flights from Jeddah or Riyadh to the U.S. can top 12 hours or more in travel time, making customs procedures upon arrival to the United States frustrating for many. Under the new system, on reaching the US, passengers will be treated as domestic arrivals, which allows faster processing at their arrival airport.