The Government of Sharjah has approved the US$400 million (AED 1.46b) budget for the expansion of Sharjah International Airport, according to MEED (Middle East Economic Digest), quoting Adel Abdullah Ali, Air Arabia’s Chief Executive Officer.
According to the airline CEO, the expansion project is expected to begin this summer and will increase airport capacity from 8 to 18 million passengers a year.
A master plan for the expansion of the airport was submitted by American engineering firm Bechtel in 2013, recommending a new terminal, construction of new roads around the airport, plus additional services such as a new hotel and a shopping mall.
In 2014, Sharjah International Airport opened a new AED 500 million (US$ 136m) airport runway, significantly expanding the airport’s aircraft capacity.
The new runway allows large and new-generation ICAO Code F aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and Boeings B747-8 Intercontinental and B747-8 freighter. The old runway now serves as a taxiway.
The airport handled 11 million passengers from January to December 2016, registering a 10 percent year-on-year increase on 2015. In January 2017, the airport handled 969,633 passengers, showing a 4 percent increase on January last year.
Sharjah International Airport’s growth has been driven by its strategic location, the success of Sharjah’s in-bound tourism industry and the expansion of Sharjah-headquartered Air Arabia.
The airport’s ideal location, close to Sharjah city, Dubai city and the main highways connecting the country’s seven emirates, has made it a convenient hub for both business and leisure travelers.