Gulf Daily News - 7/5/2006
A NEW BD2.9 million air traffic control tower unveiled yesterday is expected to further upgrade the security and safety of air traffic through Bahrain. Deputy Prime Minister and Transportation Minister Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, who opened the tower, said the project was part of a multimillion-dinar expansion underway at Bahrain International Airport.
"Besides being an outstanding architectural landmark, it will incorporate the very latest air navigation technology," he told newsmen after the official opening ceremony.
"Apart from its distinctive shape, the tower will have state-of-the-art equipment that will upgrade security and safety measures for air traffic movement."
Shaikh Ali said air traffic through Bahrain had registered a 26 per cent increase so far this year, over the same period last year.
"We shall therefore speed up the airport expansion project to meet the increasing demand," he added.
"Work on resurfacing the runway will start soon and terminal expansion work will start early next year.
"We were the first airport in the region to receive the Concorde and we hope to be among the first airports in the Middle East to receive the new super jumbo A380."
Shaikh Ali congratulated the Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) team, as well as the Works and Housing Ministry and the Finance Ministry, on completing the project in time.
"The timely upgrading of the airport's infrastructure and facilities goes hand in hand with clever marketing to attract new business and further enhance the airport's strong position in the region and beyond," he said.
"Among the new airlines being attracted to the Kingdom, Lufthansa resumed its operations to Bahrain last week and Malaysian Airlines will start operations next month.
"We are also proud of Bahrain Duty Free, which is being recognised as one of the world's best."
Meanwhile, Shaikh Ali said passenger facilities are continually upgraded in addition to the airport's enhancements.
"A BD70m upgrade of facilities will almost double the size of the current passenger terminal," he revealed.
"We shall also involve the private sector in building a multi-storey car park and related facilities outside the airport."
CAA Under-Secretary Captain Abdulrahman Al Gaoud said the new tower would be instrumental in upgrading security and safety measures for air traffic movement.
"The tower is equipped with a seven-station control room with a VIP viewing deck lounge and reception area, staff rest room facilities and a few offices," he revealed.
"It is staffed by a team of Bahraini expert controllers to handle the latest advancements in aircraft safety and technology.
"The tower also houses the headquarters of the Regional Monitoring Agency for the Middle East for Air Navigation Operations."
Capt Al Gaoud recalled that the first air traffic control centre in the Middle East was opened in Bahrain in 1947.
Acting air navigation director Ali Ahmed Mohamed said the control room has incorporated the latest technology based on standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
"We are proud that we have a team of trained Bahraini staff, including women, to carry out a highly technical and skilled job at the new control tower," he added.
"The improved location and increased height of the new control tower provide a clearer view of the airport's runways and taxiways, while the increased work space and a more ergonomic controller position layout provide personnel with an environment more suited to the task in hand."