Jordan’s new airport to increase capacity threefold

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Kjeld Binger, Airport International Group CEO.

Kjeld Binger, Airport International Group CEO.

Jordan’s new Queen Alia International Airport terminal, being built by a group of companies that include Airport International Group (AIG), will start operating on March 21, and increase capacity almost threefold, said CEO Kjeld Binger.

The kingdom’s new terminal will increase capacity from an annual 3.5m passengers to 9m and with next phase of expansion climb to 12m, Binger said in an emailed statement to Arabian Business.

The AIG consortium, led by Abu Dhabi-owned Invest AD, which has a 38 percent stake in the project along with Kuwait's Noor Financial Investment Company, which has a 24 percent share, was awarded a 25-year build-operate-transfer concession by the Jordanian government in 2007. AIG’s total investment at the airport is US$850m, while the new terminal alone has cost US$750m.

The old Queen Alia terminal, which began operations in 1983, will be demolished as the kingdom pursues the expansion of its new airport.  

"The quality and modernity of this new airport infrastructure is critical for attracting businesses and tourists to the kingdom,’’ Binger said. 

The new development, along with national carrier Royal Jordanian expanding the scope of its network are part of the government’s plan to help the kingdom position itself as a competing hub to Gulf carriers. Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways are two that have invested billions of dollars in building up their fleets and expanding their infrastructure to capture passenger traffic between Asia and Europe.

"The new terminal is significantly improving the basis for these activities, as it offers one of the absolute shortest connection times in the region, and thus increasing the competitive position of Royal Jordanian,” Binger said.

Jordan, which has one the smallest economies in the Arab world with little natural resources and imports more than 90 percent of all its energy needs, relies on foreign aid, grants and remittance inflows from citizens working abroad to finance its fiscal and current account deficits. Energy imports in the kingdom increased to 19 percent of GDP in 2011 from 9 percent in 2003 on the back of higher imports for generating electricity.

Though the total number of visitors to the country fell by 7.3 percent in 2012 to 6.3m, total receipts increased 15.3 percent in the year from 2011, adding US$3.47bn to the economy, according to official government figures. The kingdom aims to increase tourism revenue to JD4.2bn annually by 2015.

The kingdom’s economy is projected to expand to about 3.5 percent this year from 3 percent last year, according to International Monetary Fund estimates.

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