4-phase Soft launch operations begin at new Jeddah airport


Saudi Gazette

— The first commercial flight to land at the new airport in Jeddah was welcomed by the General Authority of Civil Aviation management team and others senior officials as GACA began soft launch operations at the new facility here on Tuesday.

The four-phase soft launch operation has been designed to ensure that the airport was fully functional and that employees received necessary training, ahead of the official opening of the airport in the first quarter of 2019.

The airport will operate 46 gates when it formally opens but during the soft launch GACA will manage a limited number of flights through six gates. Additional gates will open in line with the growth in capacity and passenger security, safety and experience will be of paramount importance throughout the process. This approach is designed to avoid some of the issues faced by other international airports that opened for operations before they were ready.

“The new KAIA is a major milestone for Saudi Arabia and one that will help meet the goals of Vision 2030 to support and drive the Kingdom’s economic development. The airport provides a platform that will allow the Kingdom to play a greater role as a regional hub for transport and logistics services, and support the growing number of pilgrims to the Two Holy Mosques,” Abdulhakim Al-Tamimi, president of GACA, said in a statement.

Talking about the importance of opening the airport in controlled phases, Al-Tamimi said this was a responsible approach adopted by most major infrastructure projects around the world.

“Delivering world-class security, safety and customer experience for all of our passengers, is at the very heart of the vision of GACA and we will achieve this by testing facilities in a controlled and disciplined manner. Our measure of success is not to have everything running perfectly on day one but to ensure that we are prepared for the full operational launch in 2019.

Al-Tamimi confirmed that the soft launch would be delivered across four key stages: May to July: Small number of domestic flights through six gates, July to September: Gradual increase in the number of domestic flights, November to December: All domestic flights to be accommodated and January to March 2019: the airport will be fully operational and will accommodate domestic and international flights through 46 gates.

Al-Tamimi expressed his gratitude to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, for their full and continuous support to the civil aviation sector and the new airport.

Al-Tamimi also thanked Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, advisor to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and emir of Makkah, and Prince Abdullah Bin Bandar, deputy emir of the region, for their dedicated support in completing all operational requirements of the new airport.

He concluded his statement by thanking everyone connected with the development of the new airport for their efforts in delivering a world-class resource that is a projection of the Kingdom’s ambitions to the world. He hoped that these efforts will continue to be crowned with success and will meet the aspirations of the government.