The airport is served by about 27 airlines. Credit: Hmn 1988.
King Fahd International Airport has a three floor concourse. Credit: Moaksey.
The airport occupies about 776km² and is the largest in the world in terms of area. Credit: Shaikhad.

King Fahd International Airport (KFIA) is located in Dammam, the capital city of Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. Occupying about 776km² of area, it is the largest airport in the world.

Plans to construct the airport began in 1970. Construction work was started in 1983 and the airport opened for commercial operations in November 1999. The airline operations were shifted from the former Dhahran International Airport, which currently serves the Royal Saudi Air Force’s King Abdulaziz Air Base, to KFIA.

The airport serves all the cities of the Eastern Province besides the main urban centres,  Al Khobar, Dhahran, Dammam, Ras Tanura, Qatif, and Jubail Industrial City. About 27 renowned airlines provide services at the airport. They connect the Dammam city with Europe, south-east Asia, south Asia and the Middle East.

KFIA has two parallel runways capable of accommodating larger aircraft including Airbus A340-600 and Boeing 747-400. In 2009, the airport had passenger traffic of 4.1 million and handled cargo of 82,944t. The aircraft movements recorded during the year were 41,079.

Master plan

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), a part of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation, appointed Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO) to develop a master plan for the expansion of the airport facilities. The master plan design was completed between April 2008 and October 2009. NACO in collaboration with DHV and InterVISTAS also conducted non-technical studies such as investigation to increase the non-aeronautical revenues, environmental and financial-economic analysis.

“The main King Fahd Road is also connected by two major three-lane and two-lane highways.”

The master plan involves expansion of terminals and other facilities of the airport to meet the international requirements till the year 2038. The passenger handling capacity of the airport is aimed to be increased to 16 million per year.

KFIA design

The airport is designed to handle about 12 million passengers and 125,000t of cargo per year. The buildings occupy an area of 43km², which is 5.6% of the total airport size.

The KFIA includes a residential community accommodating 3,000 people. A mosque for 2,000 worshippers is built above the car parking facility. Designed with a combination of modern and Islamic style architecture, the mosque is situated at the centre of a 46,200m² landscaped area. It is easily accessible from the passenger terminal via two air-conditioned bridges having moving belts. A third open bridge also connects the mosque.

The future plans include the construction of a new five-star hotel at the passenger terminal.

Terminal features

The 327,390m² passenger terminal building is a six-level structure. The third floor is for arrivals, the fourth floor is for boarding, the sixth floor is for departures and others are for passenger service. Luxuriously furnished, the 25,000m² Royal Terminal at the airport is reserved exclusively for the Saudi Royal Family and VIPs such as Heads of State, Kings and government officials. The terminal is connected to the aircraft via four bridges.

The passenger terminal has a three-level concourse building with 15 gates designed to allow future expansion. The facilities include 11 fixed passenger boarding bridges, which will be increased to 31 in the future. About 15 gates serve the boarding bridges for international and domestic flights. The terminal also has several customer counters. About 66 counters are used by Nas Air and Saudi Arabian Airlines, about 44 counters are for foreign airlines and the remaining serve the immigration and customs departments.

The terminal has duty-free markets, gifts and goods shops and other amenities. The arrivals area has restaurants, banks and cafés. Both the arrival and departure areas have many currency exchange shops and ATMs. In June 2010, the GACA authorities opened a new smoking room in the departures area.

The 39,500m² double-storey cargo building can handle about 94,000t of cargo annually. It is designed to allow full automation and expand the capacity to about 176,000t per year.

Maintenance facilities

The maintenance facilities include about 20 support buildings for the airlines and the airport. The Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Saudi Aramco supplies and maintains the fuel facilities for the aircraft. They are accommodated in the general aviation terminal located to the east of the KFIA.

Fuel installations include six tanks of 40,000 barrels capacity, loading stations, filters, pumping equipment and an oil distribution valve network. The fleet of fuel tankers provides regular fuel supply to all the commercial aircraft.

The 17,287m² catering building in the airport can prepare meals for 8,000 aircraft and 1,000 airport personnel per day. The single-storey food preparation facility can also handle 300 meals for Royal Pavilion, a reception hall exclusively meant for the King, Royal family and their personal guests.

“Saudi Aramco supplies and maintains the fuel facilities for the aircraft.”

The airport houses a 215,579m² plant nursery with 36,400m² of green fields and three greenhouses. It supplies the plants required for the landscaping of the airport.

In November 2008, the GACA awarded S$65m ($42.8m) management contract to Changi Airports International (CAI) for providing operations management services at the KFIA. The tenure of the contract is six years.

Check-in and screening

The check-in counters are located on the departure level. There are three counters for Saudi and domestic carriers and three for foreign carriers. A self-service check-in counter is available for Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Centralised security screening is conducted at the international and domestic departure areas. Screening facilities for baggage checking are also available.


The KFIA has two parallel runways (16R/34L and 16L/34R) paved with asphalt. The 3,900m-long and 60m-wide runways also include associated taxiways and aprons built parallel to them. A cross taxiway links the two runways which are 2,146m apart, allowing simultaneous take-off and landing. There is also space for a third parallel runway.

Air Traffic Control

The KFIA has an 84m-tall control tower comprising the air traffic control level, a mezzanine level for technical and communication equipment and another mezzanine level for amenities. It has a total floor area of 7,960m².

Parking and car rental facilities

The airport has a three-storey car parking building with space sufficient for 4,500 cars. The 176,752m² facility can be directly accessed from the passenger terminal via the main roads. Additional parking is available in two open spaces. Many car rental companies with separate counters at the terminals also offer round the clock services.


Bechtel was responsible for the master planning, project management, construction management and engineering design of the airport. The company was contracted by the International Airports Projects division of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation from 1970–1999 for a contract value of $1.4bn.

Joannou & Paraskevaides was responsible for the construction of the terminal building with modern equipment such as moving sidewalks escalators, concourse building, administration building, aircraft docking, ATC and support facilities. The value of the contract was $296m. Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA) was the structural engineer.

Road infrastructure

Located about 22km north-west of Dammam, the airport is well connected by Dammam-Riyadh Highway and Abu Hadriyah Highway. The main King Fahd Road is also connected by two major three-lane and two-lane highways. New connecting roads are also planned as part of Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure project which aims to complete 6,400km of new roads.

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