A joint bid by Baghdad-based Fourth Dimension and British software firm Copperchase has won a $125m contract to develop and expand the international airport in the holy city of Najaf, reported Zawya.
The airport currently handles 20 flights a day servicing Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Kuwait, India and Bahrain. This number can rise to 45 on religious occasions, as Najaf receives millions of pilgrims.
"The project is a 20-year build, operate and transfer agreement and will includes updating equipment, expanding the apron, construction of a new runway and improving mechanisms for dealing with more traffic," detailed an anonymous member of the Najaf Provincial Council (NPC).
The contractor will keep 65% of the annual profits while NPC will receive the rest.
Najaf’s airport was constructed by Aqeeq Aviation, a Kuwaiti company, in 2006, under a contract to operate the airport for five years in a deal valued at $50m. Aqeeq also bid for the expansion.
Iraq has four civilian airports. The largest of these is in Baghdad, and the others are in Basra and Mosul. The official said NPC expects the expanded airport to generate annual profits of up to $17m.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Atwani, an economics professor at the University of Wasit, told Zawya said that Iraq seriously needs new airports and to expand existing sites.
"The country has more than 32 million people and only six airports," he said.