By Angus McDowall
RIYADH, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Foreign companies will be allowed to invest in Saudi Arabian airports being privatised without the need for local partners, the kingdom’s aviation regulator said on Tuesday.
Local investments in some airports will be capped at 25 percent to ensure foreign operators have a majority holding in operating contracts, Faisal al-Sugair, vice-chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) told reporters in Riyadh.
The kingdom plans to privatise its international and domestic airports by 2020, GACA officials said at a news conference. As part of the process, some would first be “corporatised” — restructured to operate like a company while remaining state owned, the officials said.
“All international companies, operators, who are qualified, can participate ... there is no requirement for a local partner, that’s up to the companies,” Sugair said.
Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport will shift to a corporate structure in the first quarter of 2016, Sugair said.
However, the airport’s new Terminal 5 will be run as a concession by Dublin Airport Authority before the rest of the airport is itself privatised, he said.
An international operator will run a concession for the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi’s busiest airport, Sugair said, adding that GACA is preparing a shortlist of bidders.
Dammam’s King Fahd International Airport will be corporatised in the third quarter of 2017, before being privatised, GACA officials said.
IFC is advising GACA on the privatisation of King Abdulaziz International Airport, as well as the new Taif Airport, aimed for pilgrims.
The regulator first announced privatisation plans, which include air traffic control and information technology units, in November.
Reporting by Angus McDowall, writing by Nadia Saleem; editing by Matt Smith and Keith Weir