Bahrain International Airport (BIA) is set for a major overhaul during the next five years as it moves to upgrade its facilities and expand passenger capacity through an airport modernization program, said a top official.
The CEO of Bahrain Airport Company (BAC), Mohamed Yousif Al-Binfalah (photo) told the global publishing, research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) that while longer term, a second airport would become a necessity, plans to spend almost $1 billion on developing the current facilities were expected to buy the Kingdom some breathing space.
“Within the next 20 years, there will be a serious need to develop a new airport. However, we are not under any constraint or pressure to relocate to a new platform. The short term will bring an injection of $80 million funds over the next two years to upgrade Bahrain Airport and provide the required capacity,” Al-Binfalah said.
According to him, the medium-term plan is to expand the passenger capacity to 13.5 million a year, with an investment of around $900 million over four to five years.
He said a Master Plan, which is set to spearhead the Kingdom’s airport and air transport development and unlock potential non-aeronautical development opportunities, should be completed before the first-half-year end.
Al-Binfalah was interviewed as part of the research carried out for “The Report: Bahrain 2014,” the Group’s tenth-anniversary guide on the Kingdom’s economic activity and investment opportunities.
During the interview, the CEO said that while structural changes across the sector, such as the downsizing of Gulf Air, had produced some challenges, there was fresh impetus for BAC and the national carrier, which fall under the same umbrella, to foster a closer working relationship with a view to achieving common goals.
“Gulf Air accounts for 60% of our traffic and it is in our interest to support it through its realignment,” he said.
Al-Binfalah also told the consultancy firm that BAC’s new route strategy, which was nearing completion, would include a particular focus on Asia and the Far East, led by a drive to attract new airlines and boost services to underserved destinations.
The Report: Bahrain 2014 will be a vital guide to the many facets of the country, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking and other sectoral developments.