See the new world’s largest £23bn airport with four more runways than Heathrow

King Salman International Airport, opening in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in six years, is anticipated to become the world’s biggest airport, with six runways and estimated capacity to serve 120 million passengers.

This is said to likely increase to 185 million by 2050, as part of the drive to increase tourism in the area.

“The airport project is in line with Saudi Arabia’s vision to transform Riyadh to be among the top ten city economies in the world and to support the growth of Riyadh’s population to 15–20 million people by 2030,” said a statement from the Saudi Press Agency.

The airport will have six runways and is estimated to serve 120 million passengers. (Image: Foster Partners)

The agency also said that they hoped the new airport would become an “aerotropolis centred around a seamless customer journey, world-class efficient operations, and innovation”.

Spanning over 22 square miles, over four square miles have been set aside for retail outlets, which will please those partial to a pre-flight shopping spree duty-free.

In comparison, Heathrow Airport covers just over four square miles, the same size set aside just for retail at King Salman. The new airport will also have three times as many airports as Heathrow and 41 million more passengers than the busiest airport in Europe.

The construction is set to create 150,000 jobs, ranging from air traffic control operators to baristas.

The architect of the project is a British firm, Foster + Partners, the company that also worked on the new Marseille Airport and the Midtown Bus Terminal in NYC. The UK construction firm, Mace, is serving as the delivery partner.

Currently, the largest airport in the world is King Fahd International Airport, also known as Dammam Airport, also in Saudi Arabia. It is also the third largest airport in the country in terms of passenger volume, welcoming more than 10 million passengers a year, and being served by 37 airlines.

As part of the Saudi kingdom’s “Vision 2030” plans, work has already begun on the new £40 billion New Murabba city, which will centre around a giant gold cube. Hailed as Riyadh’s new capital, it forms part of the over £1 trillion worth of infrastructure and real estate projects that the country has unveiled since 2016. The company developing the scheme says the city will be large enough to contain 20 Empire State Buildings and will transform the horizons of Riyadh.

Dr. Abdullah bin Ahmed Al-Maghlouth, a member of the Saudi Economic Association, told Arab News that the establishment of KSIA will be Riyadh’s gateway to the world.

“The more passengers, flights and cargo transport, the higher the gross domestic product, wages and incomes become. They encourage the growth of the city, build more hotels and restaurants, provide more services and provide express transportation to accommodate visitors and tourists.”

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