Bahrain International Airport expects to complete the detailed design of its new terminal by the end of 2014 as it targets an opening within five years.

Buoyed by a recovering Gulf Air, the airport is completing its expansion plans which will also incorporate a general aviation terminal and maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities.

The refurbishment of Bahrain’s existing terminal is underway, says chief commercial officer Mohamed Khalil, but the main focus of the kingdom’s three-phase airport development plan is the construction of a new $900 million terminal. “The funding is in place. We are targeting to start enabling works by mid-2015,” he says, speaking at the World Routes event in Chicago.

Phase one is refurbishment of the existing terminal, which represents a BD30 million ($80 million) and is being funded by the Bahraini transport ministry. Phase two covers the new terminal funded by the Gulf Cooperation Council, while phase three centres on the construction of an all-new airport from 2034 and beyond.

The project to build the new terminal will take 3-4 years, and enable significant growth from the 8 million passengers Bahrain is currently handling. “Passenger numbers reached 9.1 million in 2009, but that was a stretch,” says Khalil, who adds that the new terminal will increase capacity to over 13 million.

Bahrain does not currently have any Airbus A380 services, but the new terminal will incorporate one A380-dedicated gate compatible with two-deck boarding.

The plan for the existing terminal has not been finalised but it could be used for low-cost airlines or hajj type operations, says Khalil.

The next milestones in the airport’s development will be the firming up of plans for a general aviation terminal and MRO and hangar facilities. “We hope to issue an RFP for the GA terminal by the end of the year,” Khalil says.

Another proposal that could form part of the airport’s masterplan is the construction of a cargo village, while a landside business park is also being evaluated.

Since its peak in 2009, Bahrain’s annual traffic has declined through 8.5 million in 2012 to 7.4 million last year, as the effect of Bahrain Air’s collapse and Gulf Air’s restructuring took its toll on passenger numbers. But things are starting to improve as Gulf Air’s restructuring bears fruit.

“During 2014 to date, growth is at 8.9% and we’re forecasting a 6% increase this year to 7.9-8m passengers,” Khalil says.

The country’s flag carrier accounts for more than 60% of Bahrain’s traffic and Gulf Air is “recovering very well and during this year they are increasing frequencies and traffic”, says Khalil. “That is excellent news for us. A happy Gulf Air is a happy Bahrain International Airport,” he adds.

Source: Flight Daily News