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Abha International Airport: History and Developments

Abha International Airport is an airport in Abha, the capital of ‘Asir Province in Saudi Arabia.
The airport services several domestic airports within the Kingdom. It also offers international flights to Aden and Sana’a in Yemen, Cairo in Egypt, Doha in Qatar, and nonstop flights to Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE.
Construction of Abha Airport started in mid-1975 by Laing Wimpey Alireza. Earlier, domestic flights had been handled at the military airport near Khamis Mushait. The airport was launched in 1977.The design was carried out by the Dutch Consultants NACO. The site was a new construction area between the cities of Khamis Mushait and Abha, and served both equally.
The airport has been frequently targeted by Houthi forces during the Yemeni Civil War.
It was initially attacked by the Yemeni Houthi movement on 12 June 2019, injuring 26 people.
On 10 February 2021, Houthis used four drones to carry out a drone strike on the airport, damaging a civilian aircraft (a Flyadeal Airbus A320) and starting a fire. A Houthi spokesman said the attack was in response to coalition airstrikes and other actions in Yemen.
The General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) has provided an enhanced seating capacity for the southern airports with the aim of connecting all regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by air.

This has contributed to meeting the growing demand for travel and for the development of tourism and economic movement in the southern region.
The official statistics issued by GACA during the year 2019 were recorded in the tourist areas, in which the number of passengers traveling through Abha International Airport reached 4,368,153 passengers, while the number of flights reached 35,027 flights.
GACA has worked on many development projects on Abha International Airport during the past period, with the aim of accommodating the growth in air transport demand from residents of the region and visitors alike, and raising the level of quality of services provided to travelers and airport visitors.
The development projects included expanding the departure terminal at Abha Airport at an area of 805 square meters and a capacity of 309 passengers, in addition to the expansion of the arrival terminal, which reached an area of 1,030 square meters, with a capacity of 340 passengers.
Moreover, two gates were added, one for departure and another for arrival, a baggage conveyor belt, 12 check-in counters. The flight information display systems screens were replaced as well as the installation of electronic gates in the departure terminals.
The main runway was rehabilitated and improved, and a project to increase the number of aircraft parking bays to 13, in addition to the rehabilitation of the current runway to accommodate wide-body aircrafts, and the expansion of the taxiway to 45 meters.

GACA has also previously signed a contract for the new King Saud Airport project in Al-Baha, and through this project, GACA seeks to raise the efficiency of its operation and raise the percentage of expected flights domestically and internationally.
GACA is also keen to develop the infrastructure and raise the level of services provided to travelers, in addition to applying the best international standards and specifications for the project.
The project contains a new travel terminal that can accommodate both domestic and international operation, and with a capacity of more than one million passengers annually.
These projects come within the network of the projects implemented by GACA according to its strategic plan that is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 that aims to achieve a sustainable development of the national economy by developing the infrastructure and raising the level of services provided to travelers throughout Saudi Arabia’s airports.
It is also GACA’s continuous endeavor to develop and expand the domestic and international airports to the highest of standards to keep pace with the continuous growth in passenger traffic in the cities around the Kingdom, in addition to equipping and developing the infrastructure for the aviation sector as well as providing the best services to travelers.