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Queen Alia becomes ADP'S jewel in the crown

Posted 27 November 2018 · Add Comment

Groupe ADP, through its 100% subsidiary ADP International, has acquired the exclusive control of Airport International Group, which runs Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. Anuradha Deenapanray reports.

Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) was first inaugurated in 1983 to become Jordan’s key access to the world.
Located 35 kilometres from the heart of the capital, Amman, it provides passenger, air cargo and aviation support services. It gives direct access to major business and travel destinations in Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East, and heritage sites like Petra, the Dead Sea and the Wadi Rum Desert.
In 2007, under the terms of a 25-year concession agreement, Airport International Group (AIG) became responsible for the operation of QAIA, the rehabilitation of the airport’s facilities, and the construction of a new passenger terminal.
In addition to AIG’s total capital commitment of $850 million, funding was secured through the commercial arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Islamic Development Bank, a syndication of commercial leaders, and shareholder equity.
By 2012, the airport was serving 6.2 million passengers.
The new Foster+Partners-designed terminal was inaugurated in 2013 with the aim of increasing passenger capacity from 3.5 million to 9 million in phase one, and to 12 million in phase two. A few months later, ISO-certified QAIA became the second airport in the Middle East to gain airport carbon accreditation.
Groupe ADP took control of AIG by becoming a 51% shareholder in April. Its new co-shareholders are the infrastructure investment funds, Meridiam, and IDB Infrastructure Fund II. The Engineering and Development Group (Edgo) also remains a co-shareholder.
The French group has invested $265 million consolidating its position in the region and encrusting its DNA there, especially through ADP Ingénierie.
“By becoming the majority shareholder with 51% of AIG’s capital, Groupe ADP sends a strong signal. We are in Jordan for a long-term industrial project and we want to pursue the development of the airport with a greater leeway,” said Fernando Echegaray, CEO of ADP International.
He sees QAIA as a jewel in terms of infrastructure and services. During two consecutive years – 2015 and 2016 – it was elected best airport in the Middle East in its category at the Airports Council International (ACI) airport service quality (ASQ) awards.
The group is exploring the possibility of further expanding QAIA’s capacity, which is well above 12 million per year today, given the growth forecasts in the short and medium term. Meanwhile, the airport’s network continues to grow, which opens up new opportunities for the kingdom.
Echegaray pointed out that, despite the Syrian conflict, passenger traffic has been increasing by 6.5% annually since the beginning of the concession.
“As an airport operator, our challenge is to continuously develop traffic by encouraging airlines, through a route development strategy supported by the international network of Groupe ADP, to open new routes from Amman or to expand their activities. We have also focused on increasing non-aeronautical revenues (businesses and real estate), training and job creation for Jordanians.”
Reaffirming AIG’s commitment towards constantly enlarging QAIA’s network, the airport welcomed Norwegian Airlines last May, marking the start of bi-weekly flights between Amman and Copenhagen. According to AIG, this move “paves the way for several more Scandinavian destinations while partnering with one of the largest low-cost carriers globally, as well as one of the world’s fastest growing airlines”.
AIG believes that establishing such diverse routes to new destinations will result in beneficial effects on the kingdom’s tourism sector, subsequently strengthening the local economy, while providing tourists and citizens alike with more options.
“As Jordan’s prime gateway to the world, we strive to facilitate comfortable, convenient and economical travel for all our passengers travelling through QAIA, by partnering with world-renowned carriers such as Norwegian Airlines,” underlined airport CEO, Kjeld Binger.
He was optimistic regarding new routes and the airport’s ability to maintain “a consistent growth” to respond efficiently to future demand.
Bjorn Kjos, chairman and CEO of Norwegian, said he believed in his strategy “to make travel more accessible to a greater number of people through competitive prices and quality service to passengers”. The Scandinavian market is opening and growing fast and stretching further south.
QAIA further cemented its standing as an active contributor to the national economy, as well as the transport and tourism sectors, by registering a 7.5% year-on-year increase for the first six months of 2018.
The airport also witnessed an increase in aircraft movements and cargo activity by 1.1% and 1.5% respectively. Top destinations contributing to the growth were Alexandria, Antalya, Baghdad, Cairo, Doha, Istanbul, Kuwait, Paphos and Rome.
Traffic prospects in the Middle East are interesting. According to International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts, the annual average growth is expected to reach 5% over the 2016-2035 period. The market will reach 517 million passengers in 20 years, creating a strong demand for infrastructure.
ADP International and ADP Ingénierie are well positioned to further penetrate the Middle East market, where they are currently running major design, extension or renovation projects.
“We got the contract for the extension of Sharjah Airport in the United Arab Emirates as a result of our strong presence in the Middle East, epitomised by our approach for more geographical proximity and a long-term partnership with our customers,” said Gratien Maire, ADP Ingénierie CEO.
The company is also present in Oman, both in Muscat and Salalah, and at four other regional airports.
In addition to the upgrading of the C satellite at Dubai International Airport, ADP Ingénierie will be in charge of extension works at the passenger terminal of the new Al Maktoum International Airport.
It also won the contract for the extension of Bahrain Airport’s passenger terminal and the design of the new regional air traffic control centre.
Furthermore, Groupe ADP has a long-standing presence in Saudi Arabia. Since 2007, it has been operating and maintaining the Hajj terminal in Jeddah.
ADP Ingénierie has also designed the new Jeddah International Airport, which will be operational soon, and carried out studies and design for the modernisation of the security systems at 27 civil airports throughout the kingdom.
“We will look carefully at upcoming opportunities in Saudi Arabia to capitalise on our experience and know-how. Air traffic is growing rapidly around the world and the Middle East zone is among the most active. The Lebanese Government plans to put Beirut International Airport under concession and will launch a tender, most probably in 2019, to ensure the growth of this platform,” said Echegaray.
He added that Groupe ADP is very much interested in the privatisation programme under study concerning some of the kingdom’s airports.
Due to its geographical location, Turkey is another country with golden opportunities. The group has, thus, decided to strengthen its stake in TAV Airports, which operates more than 15 facilities in the region, including seven in Turkey. “This acquisition gives Groupe ADP a unique experience in international expansion and the implementation of airport concessions,” said Echegaray.
Even though, currently, there’s no greenfield airport project in the Middle East, all the countries need airport expertise to harmoniously combine efficiency and creativity with anticipated future challenges, while meeting immediate needs.

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