Aqaba the jewel of the Red Sea: King Hussein International Airport

Posted: 10 June 2024 | | No comments yet

Ramzi Arafat, CEO of Aqaba Airports Company writes exclusively for International Airport Review on the development of King Hussein International Airport (AQJ) and how the airport is recovering post-pandemic and amidst a war in Gaza.

The development of King Hussein International Airport. CREDIT: King Hussein International Airport / Aqaba Airport.

The royal vision of His Majesty King Abdullah II and his Crown Prince Al Hussein Ben Abdullah towards Aqaba, has tremendously raised attention towards this small city located at the south of Jordan. The royal support towards repositioning Aqaba on the tourist map has been seen and implemented by the various government and private sectors.

King Hussein International Airport / Aqaba Airport (AQJ-OJAQ) was built in 1972 and since that time, has served the southern part of Jordan. It has attracted regular and charter flights due to its location in the city of Aqaba, in addition to being a nearby location to the city of Petra, one of the seventh wonders of the world, and less than an hours’ drive to the amazing camps of Wadi Rum “the Valley of the Moon”. The airport has seen several expansion and development phases in the past 50 years, and as part of the Royal vision, Aqaba Airport / King Hussein International Airport is currently going through a transitional period towards developing the existing facilities and attracting new airlines and creating new routes to Aqaba.

Aqaba Airport is the closest airport to the City of Petra – one of the seven wonders of the world.

Developing for the future

In addition, several projects are being executed at the south part of the airport, led by Aqaba Development Cooperation, which will include an exhibition centre, aircraft museum and a racing track, in addition to other projects to be disclosed in the near future.

Meanwhile, an up-to-date baggage handling system is being installed at the current terminal, which is due to operate by Q3 this year. The project will increase the efficiency of handling the arriving and departing passenger baggage and increase the level of security. The project includes a departure system in addition to an arriving system, that uses the highest security models applied in the airports. This project was assigned with an earlier stage that was launched by the end of 2023, that included the installation of a new CUTE system and FIDS system within the terminal area, allowing airlines to use their DCS systems through the CUTE portal, which enhanced the check-in process in the airport and gave the airlines a smoother access to their own systems.

The city of Aqaba.

Route development

After the COVID-19 pandemic, and from two active routes, Aqaba Airport AQJ managed to operate 22 direct routes flying directly to Aqaba and through a multi-leg route via Queen Alia International Airport (AMM).

Traffic during 2022 picked up with almost 82% compared to the year 2019, which was the highest traffic achieved by AQJ airport. In 2023, traffic reached a high increase in January 2023 with almost 200% increase over same month of 2022. Nevertheless, although the impact of the Gaza War over the airline’s operation to the Middle East, and despite the drop of traffic in November and December 2023, Aqaba Airport maintained positive growth in traffic with 27% growth in traffic over 2022 and picking up pre-COVID-19 traffic. This shows the high demand towards flying to Aqaba in specific and Jordan in general, and indicates that Aqaba is becoming one of the preferred destinations on the tourism map.

Currently, Aqaba Airports Company is developing its master plan and looking towards new development projects that will cope with the increase of traffic and the projected forecast for the next 25 years. Part of these projects will include a multi-million development project of a new terminal to accommodate up to two million passengers by the year 2050. The project will include a new air traffic control tower, in addition to several supporting facilities.

CREDIT: International Airport Review.


About the author – Ramzi Arafat

Ramzi Arafat is the CEO of Aqaba Airports Company. In addition, he is the Airport Director for King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba city, Jordan. He holds over 25 years of experience within the aviation and airline industry, with over 15 years in airports strategic management, aerodrome operations management, safety and security. Ramzi has been through various roles in the industry working for airline companies, ground handling and airport operator companies, holding several posts and responsibilities through his career.

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