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Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) has announced that it is planning to build a new international airport to serve pilgrims to Mecca in the nearby city of Taif.
The project is planned to be developed on a build, finance, operation, maintenance and transfer (BFOMT) basis.
GACA's board approved the project on 7 May 2014. GACA is working with the International Financing Corporation (IFC), the consulting arm of the World Bank, to help prepare the tender process to attract consortia of international and local companies to bid to develop the airport.
GACA aims to award the contract in the first half of 2015.
Jeddah and Madinah airports currently serve the several million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims coming from abroad each year to Saudi Arabia.
The existing airport at Taif is located 30 km, to the east, of Taif and 70 km from Mecca. It was converted to a regional airport in 2009 when GACA transformed allowed international airlines to operate at the airport as the city's population was increasing and to reduce pressure on the three main airports at the time.
In February 2013, the IFC issued tenders to look for legal and technical advisors for the project.