The first phase of a project to rehabilitate and upgrade Aden International Airport in Yemen has been launched by the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY).

Aden Airport will undergo a full modernisation and expansion under the project and is set to become a non-stop hub for international and domestic flights.

“Laying down the first building blocks of development and strategic projects for Aden International Airport will contribute significantly to raising the standards of the airport and the quality of services available to the travellers and airlines,” said Captain Saleh Salim bin Nahid, President of the General Authority for Civil Aviation and Meteorology.

SDRPY Projects and Studies Director Eng. Hassan Alattas explained: “The objective of this project is to bring Aden Airport up to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards as quickly as possible, connect Aden directly to the countries in the region, and increase the airport’s capacity to handle much greater numbers of flights and passengers.”

The site of the airport first served as the location of the Royal Air Force Khormaksar from 1917 to 1967, growing to become Yemen’s second largest airport by 1996, handling over a million passengers a year through its main terminal.

With the outbreak of conflict in 2015, the airport was forced to close and has only seen sporadic and limited service since 2015. The airport currently operates six regional flights per week at “very high cost”.

The project will proceed in three phases with the first focusing on providing electricity, safety measures and transportation including a study and redesign of the external main gates and roads of the complex. Passenger transport buses will be provided.

Phase two will consist of constructing and connecting vital service systems, such as telecommunications, navigation and air traffic control. The runway and taxi areas will be rehabilitated along with the gates and tunnels connecting gates to the aircraft.

The final phase will focus on aligning the airport facilities and operations with ICAO standards in all areas, including safety, electricity supply, interior and exterior infrastructure, air traffic control and navigation.

“This will represent a new era in the airport’s history because this facility has never functioned consistently to international standards before,” Alattas said, adding that the goal is to “maximise the benefits of the new air transport hub.”

The SDRPY called the groundbreaking a “historic occasion” for Aden and Yemen, with the potential for regional economic development key.

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