The airport 'proud to serve Aqaba'
King Hussein International Airport in Jordan has expanded to accommodate tourist demand in the popular Red Sea resort of Aqaba.
Aqaba is Jordan’s gateway to the Red Sea, where tourists can swim and dive in its beautiful warm, clear waters while taking in colourful coral and marine life – including turtles and dolphins.
The port city is also an integral part of Jordan’s ‘golden triangle’, which takes in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) site of Petra, Wadi Rum, and the famous Dead Sea, where you can cover yourself with rich minerals as you float in the salty water.
People have visited Aqaba for many years but, as the town slowly developed into a popular destination, with luxury beach resorts and hotels, visitor numbers increased significantly and its local airport needed to keep up with demand.
Located north of Aqaba, and about a 20-minute drive from the centre,
King Hussein International (KHIA) borders Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
It first swung open its doors in 1972 with a single terminal building, one departure gate, and one baggage carousel.
Over the years, the facilities have been upgraded, including major renovation/refurbishment of the whole passenger terminal building in 2002.
Then the airport operator, Aqaba Airports Company, looked for outside help in expansion and a new land use development masterplan was adopted for KHIA by internationally renowned Changi Airport Consultants (CAC).
“The masterplan aims at enabling the facility to be developed in a sustainable and cost-effective manner, while boosting competitiveness of the airport in the region to serve the economic, tourism and investment sectors by improving the efficiency of procedures for passengers,” said Talhouni. “The expansion was completed in 2016 and it will serve the airport until 2028.”
Aqaba Airports Company research revealed that, based on a passenger and cargo volume forecast, the recommended land use plan encompasses all the ‘important’ functional areas of the airport.
“The masterplan facilitates efficient airport operations, provides the flexibility to adjust to unforeseen changes, allows for forecast growth until 2028, and provides safety and security for aircraft operations,” added Talhouni.
“The total airport site is 24.5 million square metres, where a quarter of the area is reserved for further development.”
Development of new facilities or upgrading/expanding of existing facilities is being undertaken in a series of phases to match the actual growth of air traffic and to maintain a required level of service.
The airport currently handles two million passengers yearly, with airlines coming in from all over the world – mainly European carriers and Jordan’s flagship Jordanian Airlines.
“KHIA is a 24/7 operational airport capable of accommodating all aircraft from small up to a B747 aircraft,” said Talhouni.
The functional areas being developed in phase one include those designated for commercial use. This includes an aerospace industrial park, which includes assembly of aircraft parts; warehousing and distribution; production, repair and testing of aircraft avionics components; and research and development of aerospace technology.
There’s also a logistics park including freight offices and warehouse distribution, as well as car rental offices and travel agents.
“Other aviation-related businesses and non-aviation businesses which prefer to be located near the airport will include educational establishments, such as training schools for aspiring pilots, as well as for experienced pilots, and training schools for airport engineers and technical personnel,” said Talhouni.
“There will also be a hotels and recreational zone, and a real estate development zone, where developers are welcome to invest in all the above-mentioned investment opportunities.”
The open sky airport also accommodates the ever-increasing demand for private aviation.
“We have great VIP companies and FBO facilities at KHIA, including Ayla Aviation Academy, the Royal Jordanian Academy, the Aero Wings for Industry’s assembly plant for light planes, the Jordan Private Jets Services private jet terminal, and the Al Baddad International Group’s maintenance centre,” said Talhouni. “Aqaba is the place to be, either for tourists or business people, and KHIA is proud to serve all visitors.”