ⓘ Queen Alia International Airport
Queen Alia International Airport is Jordans main and largest airport and is located in Zizya 30 kilometres south of the capital city, Amman. It is named after Queen Alia, who died in a helicopter crash in 1977. The airport is home to the countrys national flag carrier, Royal Jordanian Airlines and serves as a major hub for Jordan Aviation.
A state-of-the-art new terminal was inaugurated in March 2013 to replace the airports older two passenger terminals and one cargo terminal. The three original terminals were made obsolete once the new terminal officially began operations. In 2014, the new airport received the "Best Improvement by Region: Middle East" and "Best Airport by Region: Middle East" awards by the Airport Council International. The awards are given to the airports which achieved the highest customer satisfaction in the ASQ Survey.
Queen Alia International Airport QAIA was built in 1983 in response to the growing airport traffic needs that Amman Civil Airport could not accommodate. At the time, passenger traffic was increasing above the international average, recording 25–30% growth per annum and placing considerable pressure on airport facilities despite continuous expansion and development. In 1981, the number of arriving, departing and transit passengers exceeded 2.3 million, while cargo traffic reached 62.000 tonnes and aircraft traffic topped 27.000 movements.
The Jordanian Ministry of Transport undertook to build a new international airport with sufficient capacity to cope with demand in the foreseeable future. QAIA was built at an estimated total cost of JOD 84 million. Passenger facilities were designed to serve 3.5 million passengers per annum.
QAIA has since grown to become the kingdoms primary international gateway and a stop-over for international airlines in the Middle East. By 2012, QAIA was serving on average more than 6 million passengers and 40 airlines from around the world.
In 2007 the Government of Jordan selected Airport International Group AIG through an open tender to operate, rehabilitate and manage QAIA under a 25-year concession agreement. In response to the continual surge in passenger traffic at the time, AIG was also placed in charge of constructing a new terminal, one which not only would expand the airports then insufficient annual capacity of 3.5 million passengers, but that would also introduce a "unique travel experience" to help advance QAIAs position as a niche transit hub in the region.
Accordingly, AIG invested an estimated US$750 million in the construction of the new terminal.
The new terminal is also equipped to accommodate rising annual passenger traffic, taking the original airport capacity from 3.5 million passengers per year to 7 million.
Inaugurated on 14 March 2013, by King Abdullah II, the new airport was officially launched following an overnight operational transfer. The last flight departed from the old terminal at 10:05 pm on 20 March 2013, upon which all operations were shifted to the new terminal, where its first flight departed at 2:30 am on 21 March 2013.
On 20 January 2014, AIG launched the second phase of QAIAs expansion, valued at a total cost of over US$100 million. Completed in 2016, the second expansion phase raised QAIAs annual passenger traffic capacity to up to 12 million and was priced at $1 billion, subsequently supporting Jordans national tourism strategy goals to serve as a regional transit hub for leisure and business travel. The aims to boost its capacity to 16 million passengers annually by the end of the concession time frame in 2032. Following the airport expansion, Emirates operated a one-off Airbus A380 service to Amman, celebrating 30 years of Emirates operation to Jordan. The super jumbo registration A6-EUC operated EK901/EK902 on September 25, 2016, and it was the first ever A380 service to the Levant.
QAIAs new design was created by architects Foster + Partners. Its main characteristic is the roof that was inspired by Bedouin tents and is composed of 127 concrete domes, each weighing up to 600 metric tonnes.
The airport has three lounges, one operated by Royal Jordanian for business and first class passengers, and one operated by Airport Hotel next to the North Concourse, and the last exclusively run by telecom operator Zain Jordan for its VIP customers. Retail space was expanded by 25% at the new terminal, covering more than 6.000 square metres 65.000 sq ft. The terminal houses several international food and beverage venues that include restaurants, supermarkets and a nuts roastery; a larger Duty Free area; a childrens play area; additional shopping outlets; and internet connectivity.
3. Airport management
Airport International Group AIG is a Jordanian company formed to rehabilitate, expand and operate Queen Alia International Airport under a 25-year Build-Operate-Transfer BOT concession agreement. The concession was awarded to AIG in 2007 by the Government of Jordan after an open international tender that was overseen by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank acting as an advisor to the Government. AIGs shareholders are French, Persian Gulf, and Palestinian partners. As of 2018, 51% of the shares are owned by Aeroports de Paris ADP. The other shareholders are Meridiam Eastern Europe Investments 32%, Mena Airport Holding Ltd. funded by the IDB; 12.75% and the EDGO Group owned by the al-Masri family; 4.75%.
Through the BOT public-private partnership framework, the Government retains ownership of the airport and receives 54.47% of the airports gross revenues for the first six years, and 54.64% of the gross revenues for the remaining 19 years of the agreements 25-year term.
As part of its public-private partnership with the Government of Jordan, AIG closely collaborates with the Government on a day-to-day basis on all issues related to the airport. A dedicated project management unit within the Jordanian Ministry of Transport oversees the project for the Government. The Ministry of Transport receives full annual financial statements as well as quarterly financial and operational reports.
4. Airlines and destinations
Queen Alia Airport has various amounts of cargo traffic, both unscheduled and scheduled. Various airlines including Royal Jordanian Cargo, operate unscheduled freighter flights in and out of Queen Alia Airport to various parts of the world. As of 2015, Queen Alia became the hub for some of the US military contract flights supplying machinery and equipment to the region.
The global Airport Service Quality ASQ Survey for Q1 2014 ranked QAIA at first place in 18 different service and facility categories from among 10 airports across the Middle East. QAIA also came in at 13th place from amongst 81 airports worldwide within the group of airports serving 5-15 million passengers and recorded an Overall Satisfaction Score of 4.42 out of a possible 5.0, an improvement compared to its 4.23 score in Q4 2013. With regards to luggage delivery speed, QAIA earned a 4.13 score, up from 3.99 during the previous quarter.
QAIA also received two 2013 Airport Service Quality ASQ Awards in February 2014, ranking at 1st place in the category of "Best Improvement by Region: Middle East" and 5th in the category of "Best Airport by Region: Middle East". The ASQ Awards results are based on the ASQ Survey, an international airport passenger satisfaction benchmark program. In the 2014 version of the wards, QAIA again received the "Best Improvement In the Middle east region" award and leaped forward to become the best airport in the middle east, ahead of Abu Dhabi International Airport, Ben Gurion International Airport, Hamad International Airport and Dubai International Airport.
In March 2013, QAIA was named one of the worlds top 40 Public–private partnership PPP projects, receiving Gold recognition as "Best Emerging Market Infrastructure Project for Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa" in Emerging Partnerships. The winning PPPs, selected from among projects nominated by governments, industry, NGOs, academia and other organisations following a global call for submissions, demonstrated best practices for governments working with the private sector to provide a wide range of public services and to spur economic development in their countries.
In June 2013, QAIA became the second airport in the Middle East to achieve the "Mapping" level of the Airport Carbon Accreditation program run by Airports Council International Europe. The Mapping level recognizes the airports commitment to determining its carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emission sources at its operational boundary, as well as to engaging a third party to verify the airports annual carbon footprint.
The airport is connected to Amman by Sariyah shuttle buses that ply back and forth around the clock between Amman and the airport every 30 minutes.
An airport taxi service is also available around the clock. A Rent-a-Car service is also available at the airport.
QAIAs parking facilities are divided into three key areas:
- Short-term parking lot: Cars parked in this area are subject to an hourly parking fee.
- Departure curbside area: Reserved for passenger drop-offs and pick-ups, drivers entering the departure curbside must purchase a ticket to enter. Drivers receive a 10-minute free-of-charge grace period.
- Long-term parking lot: Designed for passengers who wish to leave their vehicles at the airport while travelling, the long-term lot charges drivers daily parking fees.
A shuttle bus is available to transport passengers between the terminal and car park.