The facility will have the capacity to handle 80 million passengers a year
New Jeddah airport has soft opening in preparation for full operations in 2019
Saudi Arabia’s new King Abdulaziz International Airport in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah had a soft opening on Tuesday as the facility gears up to be in full operation in the first quarter of next year, state-run SPA news agency reported.
Operations at the airport will be ramped up over four phases to enable full domestic and international flights next year, said Abdulhakim Al Tamimi, president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia, the agency reported on Tuesday.
The first phase, running from May includes the soft opening, to be followed by a second phase between July and September, which will receive domestic flights during those periods, said Mr Al Tamimi.
The third phase running between November and December will feature all of the domestic flights, while the fourth phase between January and March will include full domestic and international flights through the airport's 46 gates.
The airport, which cost 36 billion riyals, is an important gateway to pilgrims going to the nearby holy cities of Medina and Mecca for pilgrimage. It is expected to have a capacity to welcome 80 million passengers annually.
The old Jeddah airport handled a record 34 million passengers last year, a 9.4 per cent increase from 2016.