7 Oct 2013

Number of Pilgrims Increases 75 times in 70 years

The number of foreign pilgrims has increased more than 75 times over the past 70 years, according to Abdulhamid Abal Arry, general director of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah
He said the number of pilgrims increased from 23,863 in 1941 to 1.8 million in 2010. 

He said that 1.67 million pilgrims had arrived by air this season. Around 8.3 million pilgrims came through King Abdulaziz International Airport for Haj and Umrah in 2012 alone. 

“The number of Muslims wishing to perform Haj around the world has been on the rise since 1927. Since then, the Kingdom has witnessed huge developments,” he said.
“The government has ordered entities to conduct studies on establishing comprehensive services for pilgrims in order to accommodate the burgeoning numbers,” he added.
He said that King Abdulaziz International Airport is the main entry point for the Two Holy Mosques. “The airport, which is also the western gateway for Saudi Arabia, plays a distinctive role in serving the guests of God, with at least 60 percent of pilgrims using the terminal, making it one of the busiest in the Kingdom.”
King Abdulaziz International Airport has witnessed an increasing number of passengers since it was opened in 1982. In 2012, the airport served 27.2 million passengers compared to 7.79 million in 1983, a year after its inauguration. 
King Abdulaziz International Airport receives more than 41 percent of the total number of the Kingdom's incoming passengers.
Abal Arry added that current air traffic is double the airport's capacity and that it was no longer capable of keeping up with the continual increase. The airport hasn’t undergone radical development since vital facilities and technical systems became outdated.
The first half of this year saw an increase of 6.5 percent in the number of passengers from 2012. There were 3.9 million domestic passengers, 6.7 million passengers on international flights and 3,894,779 Umrah passengers who traveled to King Abdulaziz International Airport.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah issued a royal decree to renovate King Abdulaziz International Airport in light of such figures. 
“A royal decree has been issued to implement developmental projects for numerous facilities, especially for the south and north halls,” said Abal Arry. 
According to the official, the royal order included an independent budget for these urgent projects. He said the project for public buildings and airports, which was awarded to the Saudi Bin Laden Company, has been completed. Paris International Airport was given consultative tasks and 18 subcontractors were hired for the project. 
Besides the expansion of the south and north halls, a fully equipped new terminal measuring 16,128 square meters will be constructed to the north of the south hall. 
The north hall has been expanded by 5,100 square meters, with nine gates for departures and four for arrivals. The south hall also has six departure gates for international flights and six for domestic flights. 
Passenger waiting areas have been doubled and equipped with 1,300 new seats in the south hall and 500 seats in the north hall. Prayer areas have also been expanded in both halls.



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