This year, Bahrain’s aviation industry marked a turning point with the handover of the first phase of Bahrain International Airport’s (BIA) $1.1 billion Modernization Program. This first of two phases delivered a new 210,000 sqm terminal featuring premium-class check-in halls, check-in desks, passport control booths, E-gates, security lanes, a 9,000 sqmduty-free retail space, premium-class lounges, food and beverage zones, 24 departure gates, and 7,000 new parking spaces both at-grade and in multistory facilities. These new facilities will enable BIA to meet the needs of an estimated 14 million passengers per year.
The Program, undertaken for the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications (MTT) and Bahrain Airport Company (BAC), is emblematic of the major airport expansions underway in several member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Like those projects, the BIA Modernization faced challenges ranging from procuring the right expertise to design and deliver the new facilities to coordinating among a myriad of invested stakeholders, each with their own expectations, concerns, and issues. Thanks to the careful and well-considered planning efforts of the MTT and their management team, Phase 1 was completed as envisioned and with minimal cost overruns.
Making Future-Based Decisions
The project required a true reimagining to meet the MTT’s goals of delivering a state-of-the-art facility, reflective of the airport’s role as a national gateway capable of accommodating passengers and modern aircraft for decades to come.
Hill International Vice President and Project Director Uzair Wasif explained: “The program is a full-fledged development that entailed drawing up a new masterplan to assess future needs and an entire site plan with airside and landside facilities. The MTT brought on industry experts who recognized that to achieve the project’s goals for the long-term, the existing facility had to be decommissioned and a new terminal constructed.” Wasif added: “In 1932, the first commercial aircraft arrived in Bahrain from London, heading to Delhi with 24 passengers, making Bahrain the first GCC country to operate a commercial international airport. To keep pace with aviation industry developments, Bahrain opened a new passenger terminal known as Bahrain International Airport in 1961. The new terminal recognizes that legacy, but with all of the technology, amenities, and capabilities today’s travelers and airlines expect.”
Aligning Procurement with Schedule Goals
The process of turning a newly constructed facility into a fully functioning airport needs to be carefully managed. To oversee preparations were implemented as planned, the Project Steering Committee was formed in the initial phases of the project to enhance coordination among various stakeholders.