Bahrain plans massive airport expansion


Two new terminals are to be opened within four years as part of a BD1.8 billion (US $ 680 million) expansion of Bahrain International Airport. The proposed expansion, planned over the next 30 years, will triple the passenger capacity to 27 million a year.


Terminal Two will be commissioned by 2012 and Terminal 1A will become operational in 2013, according to the Bahrain Airport Company (BAC).


The present terminal building (Terminal 1) will be demolished in 2014 and replaced with a brand new state-of-the-art structure within a few years.


Construction work on the Terminal 2 will begin early in 2010.


Analysis and forecast: decreasing risk

Bahrain Airport has traditionally been one of the region’s main international airport. In the past several years, rapid expansion of airports in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi have relegated Bahrain into a less prominent position. The withdrawal of UAE and Omani support for Gulf Air has also had an impact on the relative position of the airport.


With other regional airport going through massive expansion programmes, Bahrain will be losing significant amount of passenger traffic, partly due to over utilization of the airport and its inability to absorb greater passenger numbers, and partly due to the increasingly insecure position of Gulf Air, as it competes with massive fleet expansions in neighbouring countries. GCC airlines are increasingly reliant on their hub status, between Europe and Asia and Australia.


The expansion programme will therefore enable Bahrain to catch up with competitor’s airports, and hence contribute to creating an economy that is diversified away from the country’s rapidly dwindling oil revenues and resources.


The figure below show the passenger numbers going though the GCC’s main airports in 2008 as well as the expected number after ongoing expansion programmes are complete. 



* Dubai Airport’s expansion has been put into question, both about its size and year of completion. The indicated numbers are as advised by the Dubai authorities but those are expected to be overly optimistic.