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Kuwait 2016 | TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | FOCUS: KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Kuwait has a modern, well-maintained transportation system, but the country's infrastructure may soon become insufficient. Top of the list for expansion is Kuwait International Airport.

The rapid economic growth that the Kuwait has undergone in the recent years has led to an extraordinary increase of the inflow of people in the country, mainly visible in the scaling figures of its air traffic. In order to receive the increasing number of passengers and properly greet them to the country, the DGCA is overseeing an expansion plan at the Kuwait International Airport (KIA).

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which operates the airport, is jointly working with the Ministry of Finance and with Ineco, a global leader in transport engineering and consultancy that has been contributing to the development of infrastructures the transportation sector in more than 45 countries all over the world

Under the contract, a new U-shaped terminal building, comprises of a basement level, a ground floor and two additional floors, will be constructed. It will be located to the south of the existing terminal and will be connected to the existing terminal building via a tunnel. The Kuwait Airways Terminal, or Terminal 2 (as it is expected to be named) will spread over an area of 90,000sqm and is anticipated to be completed by November 2016.

This new structure will feature 30 gates and will boost the facility's capacity from the current 7 million passengers to 20 million passengers a year after that it becomes operational.

The $2.1 billion expansion project also includes the extension of the two existing runways. The airport's western runway will be extended to 4,775m, becoming the seventh longest runway in the world and will be capable of handling the A380 aircraft. As per the other runway, the plan is to make it 4,000m long. Furthermore, a third runway is planned to be constructed.

After the first phase of this huge expansion plan will be completed, the airport will have eight gates capable of handling A380 aircraft, new aircraft parking spaces, a headquarters for the Directorate, a 400-bed transit hotel, waiting rooms and parking areas with a capacity of 4,500 cars.

A second phase will include further expansion and the construction of other passenger terminals which would take the capacity of the airport to 55 million passengers a year. Phase 2 is at the moment at conceptual stage.

Kuwait International Airport is located in Farwaniya, 16km south of Kuwait City. Its expansion project is highly anticipated and much needed given the increase in activity seen at the KIA over the past decade. Two indicators of this growth being in 2014, around 10.3 million passengers and 85,000 aircrafts used the KIA, represented an increase of 10% and 9% year-on-year, respectively.

Gulf countries are investing enormous amounts of money to enhance their infrastructure and housing facilities. In April 2014, the new Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, opened its doors and with an investment of over $16 billion, it became one of the most opulent infrastructure in the world. In January 2015, Dubai International Airport has become the world's busiest airport for international traffic, overtaking London Heathrow Airport and Abu Dhabi is also building a new mid-field terminal airport.

In 2006, the DGCA's “Open Skies" policy was introduced, with the aim to liberalise the bilateral arrangements governing air traffic operations with other countries. This measure attracted the interest of new carriers which started operations in Kuwait and encouraged existing carriers to increase the number of their flights.

The Open Skies policy was in accordance to the vision of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who sought to develop Kuwait into a commercial and business hub for the region is finally taking shape.

These days, excellent service quality and competitive prices are hallmarks of the airport's ground operations. In 2016 the Kuwait International Airport is predicted to welcome 13 million travellers and will give a great first and last impression to all of them.