Sharjah International Airport‘s new AED 500 million (US$ 136m) airport runway was opened this week, significantly expanding the airport’s capacity, in line with its goal of handling 25 million passengers by the year 2025. The new runway adds capacity for large and new-generation ICAO Code F aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and Boeings B747-8 Intercontinental and B747-8 freighter, plus increases the airport’s ability to grow its cargo business.
H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah officially inaugurated the new main runway, which runs parallel to the existing runway. The new runway spans 4,060 metres, has two taxi-ways and eight connecting corridors to provide aircraft with access to the main runway and hangars. The Sharjah Ruler’s private jet took off and landed on the new runway to mark its first use.
Sharjah International Airport registered a 13 percent year-on-year increase in passenger traffic for the past two years and passenger traffic during 2014 has, so far, increased by 14 percent. Sharjah added 200 more weekly flights to its summer timetable during May, June and early July following the temporary shutdown of two of Dubai International Airport’s runways for scheduled maintenance, giving a boost to summer air traffic. However, the airport’s organic growth remains strong reaching 17% in September (compared to September 2013).
The airport is a hub for a number of international passenger and cargo airlines including the Sharjah-headquartered Air Arabia, the region’s largest low-cost carrier, serving 100 destinations in the Middle East, North Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and Europe. The airline carried 6.1 million passengers in 2013 and 3.3 million during the first half of 2014.
The airport expansion will support both commercial and tourism demands. Sharjah’s highly diversified economy is growing at 8 percent per annum and its tourism sector, in particular, is experiencing a period of high growth. According to the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), more than a million tourists stayed in the emirate during the first six months of 2014: a 15 percent increase on tourist numbers during the first half of 2013. Sharjah expects two million tourists to visit by the end of the year. (Also see Sharjah airport sees 16% passenger growth)
Source: WAM, Sharjah International Airport
Image credit: Sharjah Media Corporation