Saudi Airports to Attract Foreign Investments

Muslim pilgrims wait in line as they arrive at Jeddah airport on October 30, 2011 before going to the Saudi holy city of Mecca, where they will take part in the annual Hajj or pilgrimage. Over 2 million Muslims from around the world are expected to perform the Hajj, which this year peaks in the first week of November. AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi airports privatization plan extends over 18 months

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said that privatization of 27 Saudi airports would be completed by the middle of next year, adding that an appropriate work mechanism would be put in place and employees would be given the required training to keep pace with the new system.

GACA added that by the end of 2020, Saudi airports would become financially and administratively independent, which would attract foreign investment in the giant aviation sector.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Vice-Chairman of GACA’s Board of Directors Faisal Hamad Al Sugair said that transforming Saudi airports into operating companies in the middle of 2018 would be executed in two phases, as the first phase would focus on transforming the strategic unit and the airports into a company owned by the authority of civil aviation, at the same time training employees and developing a work mechanism that would be based on international performance standards.

The second phase would focus on entirely privatizing the airports to become operating companies, Al Sugair added.

The Saudi official noted that all of the 27 Saudi airports, in addition to the sectors of air navigation and IT services, fall within the framework of the privatization project, according to a comprehensive plan aimed at turning airports into operating companies by the middle of 2020.

He added that foreign investments would exceed 75 percent in some of the airports, stressing in this regard the importance to guarantee a sufficient proportion of foreign operators in the privatization process.

Al Sugair said that King Abdulaziz International Airport would be transformed into an operating company in the second quarter of 2017, while the transformation of King Fahad International Airport would be completed in the third quarter of the same year.

He noted that the privatization plan extends over a period of 18 months, and would be executed in partnership with the privatization unit at the Saudi Council of Economic and Development Affairs.