Work on Sharjah airport terminal expansion 'to begin in mid-year'

Airport authority expects a 5 per cent rise in passenger traffic this year

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð April 6:  First Class passenger waiting area at Sharjah International Airport in Sharjah. (Pawan Singh / The National) *** Local Caption ***  PS08- SHARJAH AIRPORT.jpg
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Work on Sharjah International Airport’s terminal expansion will start in mid-2023, with completion expected in 2026, to meet rising travel demand, according to the airport authority’s chief.

To cope with a growing volume of travellers, Sharjah Airport Authority issued a project tender to expand the hub's passenger terminal, Ali Al Midfa, chairman of the Sharjah Airport Authority, said on Wednesday.

“We have closed a general tender for the project to develop the passenger terminal — we already began in 2018 with expansion plans — and there are other projects complementing the main project,” Mr Al Midfa told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Sharjah.

“More information will be announced in the next two months.”

The authority concluded the maintenance programme in the passenger terminal in 2022, including the arrivals terminal, to further improve customer experience, it said in a statement.

The airport handled about 13.1 million passengers in 2022, up from 7 million in 2021, and is closing in on the pre-pandemic levels of 13.6 million in 2019, according to Mr Al Midfa.

The expansion will increase the terminal's capacity to accommodate about 20 to 25 million passengers by 2026, he said.

Sharjah Airport's passenger volumes are projected grow at least 5 per cent in 2023 on an annual basis.

In January, the airport recorded a 13 per cent year-on-year increase in passenger traffic from the same month in 2022.

“We expect an increase of more than 5 per cent this year … there is strong economic growth, stability, a lot of attractions that draw tourists and that will reflect on the airport results in the country”, Mr Al Midfa said.

Sharjah Airport is the home base of Air Arabia, which posted a record full-year profit for 2022 as the number of passengers it carried exceeded pre-pandemic levels amid strong air travel demand. Net profit for the year jumped to Dh1.2 billion ($327 million), up 70 per cent from Dh720 million in 2021.

It carried 12.8 million passengers, up from 6.8 million in 2021 and 12 million in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airport authority is seeking to attract more airline customers to the airport, particularly from markets in Europe and East Asia, Mr Al Midfa said.

“Because of our geographical location, we rely mainly on regional carriers … if Air Arabia serves destinations beyond that, this will encourage other airlines to use Sharjah Airport”, he said.

“It's a joint effort between us, the tourism authority, the airline and other entities.”

Sharjah Airport's network includes more than 100 destinations worldwide. In 2022, the airport added two more destinations via Air Arabia — Osh, Kyrgyzstan, and Milan, Italy. It also welcomed the inaugural flights of several airlines including Egypt's Nile Air, Khartoum-based Tarco Aviation and Biman Bangladesh Airlines.

In terms of air cargo, Sharjah Airport handled around 170,544 tonnes of freight in 2022, an increase of 21 per cent from 140,717 tonnes in 2021.

Updated: March 01, 2023, 4:39 PM