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JEDDAH: Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, touted to be the main gate of the two holy mosques, is overwhelmed with passengers angry because of flight delays and mishandled luggage during Eid holiday.
Several clips featuring the chaotic situation have gone viral on the internet, with people questioning why such a situation happened at the newly built $9.6 billion airport.
“My flight was yesterday on May 3rd. I arrived earlier than scheduled at 1 p.m. At that time, the entrance gates were closed. We stood in the sun for about an hour without water or toilets available,” tweeted a passenger named Abu Ammar Alhasan.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation didn’t respond to a request for comment from Arab News.
“When we entered, crowds were everywhere, people were laying on the floor and my flight was 3 hours late,” he added.
In a statement carried on Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi Minister of Transport, Saleh Al-Jasser, directed the formation of an “urgent investigation committee” to find out the reasons for the irregularity of some flights at King Abdulaziz Airport.
It will also take the necessary regular measures, and submit the results and recommendations within a week at most, the statement added.
Another passenger complained that he was delayed for four hours because the belts that take the luggage to the plane were not working.
Saudi Arabia budget airline Flynas has announced free tickets to passengers who faced flight disruption.
The firm also promised that these tickets can be used to travel to any destination that falls under its operation.
Ryyan Tarabzoni, CEO of Jeddah Airports Company, admitted in an interview with Ekhabriya TV that several passengers faced flight delays and non-arriving of luggage in the past few weeks.
The aviation sector became fully operational, in conjunction with the Umrah season, which all together played a major role behind the development, he added.
He revealed that the appointment of Irish DAA international company will have a positive impact on the overall functioning of the airport in the coming weeks.
Under the deal, DAA International will support, manage and advise on airport operations, and aviation business development.
“It seems to me that it’s a legacy of decades of management that cannot be shaken off easily,” said Mohammed Alsuwayed, former head of the vision realization office at the Saudi ministry of transport.
“I believe the issue of the sector is related to the structure of governance overseen by the ministry of transport and GACA, as GACA should go back to being independent away from the ministry of transport supervision, for the privatization process to be done successfully and on time,” he added in an interview with Arab News.
Jeddah’s new airport was opened to passengers in 2019, covering an area of about 105 km, including the existing King Abdulaziz International Airport.
In the first phase, the project aims to accommodate 30 million passengers annually at peak times, and reach up to 80 million passengers in its final phase by 2035.
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