P.K. Abdul Ghafour | Arab News
Published — Thursday 16 October 2008
Last Update 16 October 2008 3:00 am
JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah yesterday inspected the expansion plan for Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah that aims to increase the airport’s annual capacity to 12 million passengers.
Abdullah Al-Ruhaimy, president of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), briefed the king on the project. The expansion will be completed in three phases before 2019, he said.
The project includes construction of a second runway as well as a new passenger lounge covering an area of 256,000 square meters, renovation of the existing runway and the construction of commercial areas.
King Abdullah announced the government’s decision to upgrade the Madinah airport to international status in June 2006 when he visited the holy city soon after his ascension to the throne. The decision was taken because of Madinah’s significant position in the Islamic world and the growing number of pilgrims who visit the city every year.
Commenting on the decision to upgrade the airport’s status, Crown Prince Sultan said it would reduce the pressure on King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, the main gateway for foreign pilgrims.
Prince Sultan, who is also the minister of defense and aviation, has already gave permission to foreign airlines to bring pilgrims directly to Madinah. In 2005 alone, the airport received about 800 Haj flights carrying more than 250,000 pilgrims.
King Abdullah inspected the airport’s development plan before leaving for Riyadh after a three-day visit to the holy city. He also announced that the Yanbu airport would be named after the late Prince Abdul Mohsen and the new airport in Al-Ula after the late Prince Abdul Majeed.
The king launched a number of water and electricity projects in the Prophet’s City during his tour. He also approved the design for an endowment project as well as the renovation of Al-Sabq Mosque, which is located about 500 meters from the Prophet’s Mosque.
Madinah Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Majed said the two airports were named after Prince Abdul Mohsen and Prince Abdul Majeed considering their contributions to the development of the Madinah province when they were its governors.
Al-Ruhaimy said the GACA had already started work on the Madinah airport expansion. “When the king announced the plan to upgrade the airport, Crown Prince Sultan asked us to prepare two plans: An emergency plan and a long-term plan,” he said.
He said the authority carried out a number of infrastructure projects as part of the emergency plan. “We are now working on the courtyards and car parks as well as on control systems.” He described Madinah as one of the largest growing airports in the Kingdom.
Sultan in Geneva
Crown Prince Sultan yesterday arrived in Geneva on a private visit. He was accompanied by a number of princes and senior officials. He was seen off at Jeddah airport by Prince Abdul Rahman, deputy minister of defense and aviation, and Interior Minister Prince Naif.