A project fit for a king: Saudi Arabia reveals plan for six-runway mega-airport in Riyadh
- February 1, 2023: Vol. 10, Number 2

A project fit for a king: Saudi Arabia reveals plan for six-runway mega-airport in Riyadh

by Sam Chui

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced plans to transform Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport into a mega-airport with six parallel runways, capable of handling 185 million passengers annually by 2050. It is a part of the $1 trillion investment being made by Saudi Arabia to turn the country into a tourism hotspot.

According to the state news agency SPA, the airport will cover 22 square miles and will accommodate up to 120 million travelers annually by 2030, and up to 185 million travelers annually by 2050. It is also expected to handle up to 3.5 million tons of cargo annually by 2050. The mega-airport will be named the King Salman International Airport and is expected to become one of the largest airports in the world.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, will build the airport and include the current airport. It will feature six parallel runways and also include the existing terminals named after King Khalid. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the current King Khalid airport, which features two runways, handled around 28 million passengers annually.

Furthermore, the new airport is expected to contribute $7.2 billion annually to non-oil GDP and to create 103,000 direct and indirect jobs.

In addition, the new airport will also include 4.6 square miles of airport support facilities, residential and recreational facilities, and retail outlets. It will also be home to Saudi Arabia’s new mega-airline, which is expected to launch in the foreseeable future. The kingdom is already in talks with Airbus and Boeing on orders for SAUDIA, the new airline, formerly named Saudi Arabian Airlines.

The new airport would be heavily dependent on international transit passengers, similar to the Dubai International Airport. However, only time will tell if the country will be able to convince passengers to transit through Saudi Arabia.

Vision 2030, the nation’s economic reform blueprint, states: “It will become an aerotropolis centered around a seamless customer journey, world-class efficient operations, and innovation. Riyadh’s identity and the Saudi culture will be taken into consideration in the airport’s design to ensure a unique travel experience for visitors and transit travelers.”


This story was excerpted from the Sam Chui Aviation & Travel newsletter. The original report can be read here.




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