Eng. Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, said that the new Bahrain International Airport project aims to achieve the highest levels of excellence and performance by providing a unique service to passengers and airlines.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the minister said that the new airport building, which would be inaugurated on Jan. 28, would represent a step in Bahrain’s path towards achieving the goals of the kingdom’s Economic Vision 2030.
“The new Bahrain International Airport falls within development initiatives in non-oil sectors, with a total investment of about $32 billion, which will contribute to strengthening the national economy and advancing growth,” the minister said.
“This would reflect positively on the lives of citizens and strengthens Bahrain’s position as a competitive commercial center in the region, thanks to its fertile environment for investment in vital sectors, in fulfillment of the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030.”
He revealed that during the design stage, the capacity of the new airport was increased to 14 million passengers annually, which is four times the capacity of the current airport. While the exterior design is modern, the airport’s internal facilities reflect the history and originality of Bahrain and include all the technological and security components, the minister revealed.
The number of international airlines operating in Bahrain is expected to increase following the Jan. 28 inauguration, given the size of the new airport, the modernity of its infrastructure and the development of its digital systems, Bin Ahmed Mohammed said.
He noted that the total cost of the contracts signed for the project was equivalent to $1.1 billion.
“We were able to deliver the project without the need to allocate an additional budget, thanks to the continuous follow-up that we had from Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain,” the minister underlined.
Asked about the new airport’s added value to Bahraini, Gulf and international passengers, Bin Ahmed Mohammed said: “From the very beginnings of the aviation sector in Bahrain, the hospitality provided to the traveler has been a milestone in the travel experience, which we are proud of and seek to promote according to a well-thought out vision.”
“We have provided many services and options to suit all tastes, given that the airport is an international cultural landmark through which people of various cultures travel,” the minister said, adding: “You might see these options in retail stores and restaurants that offer Bahraini cuisine… Western restaurants such as Italian, Asian and Indian, as well as fast food restaurants and duty-free lounges that offer an amazing shopping experience through 30 brands that enter the Bahraini market for the first time.”
The minister told Asharq Al-Awsat that the total size of the new building was approximately 210,000 square meters. This would increase passengers’ capacity to 14 million annually. As for airlines, the minister said their number is expected to grow, given the various facilities provided in the new space.
On the factors that allowed the completion of the project in a record 4-year period, Bin Ahmed Mohammed said: “There are many factors, on top of which are the directives of Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, throughout the work journey, which had a great impact on its completion in this proper manner.”
“We are proud that one of the most important factors is Bahrain’s long-standing experience in the aviation sector, as Bahrain is one of the first countries in the Arab Gulf region to start working in the aviation industry since the 1930s.”
The minister pointed to the logistical and technical complexities, as well as operational requirements that the project involved, in addition to the great coordination with a number of partners who form an integral part of the project. He emphasized that the expansion works were carried out in the same area that houses the current passenger terminal, which continued its operations without interruption for the past four years.
“Travelers to and from Bahrain were not affected by the works during that period,” he stated.
Asked about the measures that would be adopted to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus, Bin Ahmed Mohammed underlined the commitment to implement the instructions issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization in this regard and the directives of the national team to combat the Coronavirus in Bahrain.
“For this purpose, we have implemented the established social distancing measures throughout the airport, while direct communication between employees and travelers has been reduced as much as possible by installing plastic panels on the counters, whether at the check-in or passport counters, in addition to encouraging all travelers to initiate their procedures electronically through the electronic registration desks,” he remarked.
As for the arrivals, an entire area has been designated for the government’s health team to conduct medical checks in order to provide a safe and smooth journey for all travelers, the minister said.
Emphasizing the historic and solid relations between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Bin Ahmed Mohammed noted that the Bahrain International Airport, in its new look, would contribute to increasing travel traffic between the two countries.