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King Khalid International Airport

Coordinates: 24°57′28″N 046°41′56″E / 24.95778°N 46.69889°E / 24.95778; 46.69889
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King Khalid International Airport

مطار الملك خالد الدولي

Matār al-Malik Khālid al-Duwaliyy
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorRiyadh Airports Company
LocationRiyadh, Saudi Arabia
Opened16 November 1983; 40 years ago (1983-11-16)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL2,049 ft / 625 m
Coordinates24°57′28″N 046°41′56″E / 24.95778°N 46.69889°E / 24.95778; 46.69889
RUH is located in Saudi Arabia
Location of airport in Saudi Arabia
RUH is located in Middle East
RUH (Middle East)
RUH is located in West and Central Asia
RUH (West and Central Asia)
RUH is located in Asia
RUH (Asia)
RUH is located in Eurasia
RUH (Eurasia)
RUH is located in Afro-Eurasia
RUH (Afro-Eurasia)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
15R/33L 4,205 13,796 Asphalt
15L/33R 4,205 13,796 Asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Aircraft movements212,632[1]
Economic impact (2012)$8.0 billion
Social impact (2012)87.1 thousand
Sources: AIP Saudi Arabia[2]

King Khalid International Airport (Arabic: مطار الملك خالد الدولي Maṭār al-Malik Khālid al-Duwaliyy, IATA: RUH, ICAO: OERK) is an international airport located about 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,[3] designed by the architectural firm HOK, and Arabian Bechtel Company Limited served as the construction manager on behalf of the Saudi government.

This airport consists of five passenger terminals (only three of which are in use), with eight aero-bridges each, a mosque, covered and uncovered car parking for 11,600 vehicles, an additional Royal Terminal (for the kingdom's guests, government heads, and Saudi royal family use), a central control tower (one of the world's tallest), and two parallel runways, each 4,260 metres (13,980 ft) long. Formerly the largest airport in the world in terms of ground area, the land area allocated for KKIA is the second-largest in the world, after King Fahd International Airport[4] as well as one of the busiest airports in the Middle East. The airport is managed and operated by Riyadh Airports Company. The Royal Mosque was designed with a significant programme of integral art; the stained glass, by British architectural artist Brian Clarke, was a landmark work in the history of the medium, considered to be the largest and technically most advanced stained glass project of the modern period.[5]


King Khalid International Airport (KKIA), designed by architectural practice Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum,[6] was opened by HRH King Fahd on 16 November 1983, and opened for scheduled flights on 5 December of the same year. Until then, what is now Riyadh Air Base served commercial flights to and from Riyadh. Increased international and local air transport requirements for Riyadh made the change necessary. Riyadh Air Base, which is much closer to the city center, is operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force.

This airport was an alternative landing site for NASA's Space Shuttle.[7]

Structure and facilities[edit]


Passenger terminals[edit]

Domestic Departure gate

There are five main passenger terminals at the airport, four of them were built when the airport started operation in 1983, and Terminal 5 was opened in 2016.

  • Terminal 1 was used for all international flights (except those operated by Saudia and Middle East Airlines, which are SkyTeam members and Flynas), Though is temporarily closed for renovations and might be used by Riyadh Air.
  • Terminal 2 was used for all international flights by SkyTeam members, including Saudia, and Flynas, though now it is used for all international flights (except those operated by Saudia and Middle East Airlines, which are SkyTeam members and Flynas).
  • Terminal 3 has been reopened following its re-development, it hosted shuttle flight to Doha during the World Cup,[8] though now hosts Flynas, Flyadeal, Qatar Airways, and all SkyTeam members (except Saudia).
  • Terminal 4 has been redeveloped and is now operational. It currently hosts Saudia's international flights.
  • Terminal 5 is the newest terminal opened in 2016, which is now used by Saudia and Flynas for domestic flights.

Terminal 1 to 4 were built when the airport was opened in November, 1983. They are connected to each other by means of three linking buildings, each 168 metres (551 ft 2 in) long. Each terminal is triangular in plan, with a base of 47,500 square metres (511,000 sq ft) area. The complex includes a modern VIPs terminal plus restaurants, cafeterias, airlines offices, government departments, hotels and rent-a-car companies counters, banks, first aid clinics and commercial shops.

Terminal 5 is a 106,500 square metres (1,146,000 sq ft) rectangular building which can serve 16 narrow-body or 8 wide-body aircraft. Operated by Irish airport operator Dublin Airport Authority, it is Saudi's first privately run airport terminal and can handle 12 million passengers per year.[9]

The Royal Terminal[edit]

The US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates walks with U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Smith after arriving at King Khalid International Airport.

Heads of state and other high-ranking VIP visitors to the kingdom are greeted in the Royal Pavilion. The Royal Pavilion has open spaces, garden areas, and fountains. A ceremonial hall 12.5 metres (41 ft 0 in) wide and 390 metres (1,279 ft 6 in) long connects it to the mosque. The design and geometry of the building are similar to those of the other terminals architecturally and in the aesthetic respect. Arriving guests can use either air bridges or escalators to enter the building from the aircraft parking area. The ceremonial area on the airside has space for special receptions involving honor guards and bands. Like the passenger terminals, the Royal Pavilion has a triangular plan, with a roof composed of 33 arched sections rising to a high point 30 metres (98 ft 5 in) above the ground level. Glass walls and windows illuminate the interior of the building.[10]

General aviation terminal[edit]

A general aviation complex has been constructed north of runway number 1 for use by private aircraft and is reached by a special access road which runs north from the airport access highway. The general aviation facility includes a passenger terminal, aircraft parking and maintenance facilities, taxiways and parking for visitors, tenants and staff. In addition to privately owned aircraft, this facility accommodates Saudia's special flight services group. It's also home to Alsalam Aircraft Company, Ltd. Programmed Depot Maintenance (PDM) on Royal Saudi Air Force aircraft is performed at the uniquely designed facility.[11]


In July 2014, German construction company Hochtief won the bid for the airport expansion which aims at increasing its capacity from 15 million to 25 million and includes construction of a new fifth terminal.[12] The contract was valued at €1.3 billion and will be carried out by Hochtief with a 55% stake, along with Indian engineering company Shapoorji Pallonji Mideast and Saudi Arabian construction company Nahdat Al Emaar. Construction is expected to be completed by May 2019.[13] Terminal 4 is expected to be equipped with required facilities. KKIA has not witnessed any development since its establishment in 1983.

The airport will be linked with the city's new metro system, and the GACA has reached an agreement with Riyadh Development Authority for the purpose. The metro system will help passengers reach the city center quickly and comfortably, adding that spots have been allocated in the project for the metro lines. Saudi Railway Company will construct the main railway station on the southeastern part of the airport to be linked with the terminal through the metro system.

King Salman International Airport[edit]

King Salman International Airport is a proposed new airport to be built over King Khalid International Airport. The new airport will have no fewer than six parallel runways and capacity for up to 200 million passengers annually.[14]

The Royal Mosque[edit]

King Khalid Airport Mosque in Riyadh

The Royal Mosque is set within a plaza in a central position in the airport. KKIA was the first airport in Saudi Arabia to be built to then-contemporary engineering standards and the mosque was at the time of its construction the most modern mosque in the world, notable for its use of advances in construction and engineering to create a modern complex in a vernacular Arabic style, and for its programme of integral art, at that time the largest in the world,[15] marrying traditional Islamic decorative elements[16] with, and interpreted through, the work of contemporary artists.[17][18] Hexagonal in plan, and enclosing an area of over 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2), its scale, location and design make it the most dominant building in the passenger complex.[19] The mosque can accommodate 5,000 worshippers inside,[20] with capacity for an additional 4,000 in the surrounding plaza.[3] The mosque's dome, 33 metres (108 ft 3 in) in diameter and internally clad in polished bronze,[21] is internally separated from the lower roof of the building by a seven-foot clerestory ring of stained glass windows, below which runs a calligraphic mosaic band designed by Iranian-Armenian painter Edman Ayvazyan. The hand-cut glass and marble mosaic, measuring 250 square metres (2,700 sq ft) and fabricated with Clarke's assistance, was the largest in the world at the time,.[22] The dome's apex, at 40 metres (131 ft 3 in) above the arrivals level roadway, is higher than all the other structures in the passenger complex with the exception of the control tower and minaret. At the time of its construction, the programme of decorative and integral art[23] for the mosque constituted one of the largest single art projects of the period. In the northeast corner of the mosque plaza, a minaret rises 39 metres (127 ft 11 in) above the plaza level. A spiral stairway inside the minaret provides access to loudspeakers that broadcast the prayer calls five times daily. There are 5,030 square metres (54,100 sq ft) of floor space on the main floor of the mosque and another 765 square metres (8,230 sq ft) on the mezzanine floor. A Koranic library off of the main mosque floor has 50 square metres (540 sq ft) of user space and the same amount for storage space. The library, private offices and lavatories are located along the southeast on the southwest walls.

Stained glass[edit]

In 1982, through the Vesti Corporation, the British architectural artist Brian Clarke was commissioned to conceive of a scheme of stained glass artworks for the interior of the Royal Mosque. Clarke made a study of Islamic ornament at the Quran schools in Fez and Tangiers for six weeks, and produced a series of abstract designs that engaged with historical pan-Islamic decorative tradition. Completed in 1982 and containing 2,000 square metres (22,000 sq ft) of stained glass, the Royal Mosque was considered to be the largest and technically most advanced stained glass project of the modern period, requiring the full staff of 4 stained glass factories and 150 craftsmen, taking a year to fabricate.[24] The technical demands of the designs required the revival of certain traditional manufacturing techniques, the development of new ones to accommodate the programme of ornate geometric leading, and the deployment of modern technologies and materials, including screenprinting[25] and the acid-etching of float glass.

Runways and aprons[edit]

Departure area interior.
Runway and apron infrastructure[26]
Aspect Details
Runways 2
Runway length 4,205 m (13,796 ft)
Runway width 60 m (200 ft)
Runway shoulders 7.5 m (25 ft) x 2
Runway paved blast pads 120 m (390 ft) x 2
Taxiway width 23 m (75 ft)
Taxiway shoulders 13 m (43 ft) x 2
The highest point of the landing 226 m (741 ft)
Cross taxiway width 28 m (92 ft)
Cross taxiway shoulders 14.5 m (48 ft) x 2
Large-sized aircraft stands 20 + 12 royal terminal
Small-sized aircraft stands 22
Cargo aircraft stands 4 (Large)
General aviation stands 36
Helipads 1 Royal terminal

Air traffic control tower[edit]

Centrally located in the passenger terminal complex, between the Royal Pavilion and the mosque is the air traffic control tower standing at 81 metres (265 ft 9 in) high. Twr Freq. 118.6E & 118.8W. GND 121.6. CD 121.8. Riyadh Dept. 120.0 Riyadh Approach 126.0

There are 19 separate floor levels in the tower, including the operations area at the base of the tower and a total of 1,230 square metres (13,200 sq ft) of floor space. Six of the 19 floors are considered main floors. These include the operational level at the base of the tower, two equipment floors, an observation floor, a service floor and the cab floor at the top of the tower from which the air traffic controllers overlook the entire airport. The operations floor houses the radar control center for the airport as well as conference rooms, offices and a training area. The two equipment level contain mechanical and electrical equipment and cables, and the service floor contains a kitchen, lounge and lavatories for personnel on duty in the cab. The cab itself contains controller operating positions and electronic and communications equipment. The tower is supplied with two sources of standby power should the regular source of power be interrupted. Once source is the standby power supply at the central power plant – three diesel engine generators. In addition, a 300-kilowatt diesel engine located in the tower itself can provide a secondary source of emergency power. The tower is outfitted with the most advanced electronic radar systems and data processing equipment available.[27]

Inter-terminal connectivity[edit]

Passengers going from one terminal to another at King Khalid International Airport can utilize moving sidewalks for transportation. The moving walkways, the first to be installed at any Saudi airport, are located in the three link buildings that connect the international and domestic terminals.

There is a total of 1,196 metres (3,924 ft) of the walkways, which are actually wide conveyor belts which operate at floor level and move at a speed of close to 1 metre per second (2.2 mph). Additional passenger conveniences in the terminal complex include 80 elevators and escalators. In the parking garages, 16 escalators are provided, and two serve the mosque.

The elevators, escalators and moving walkways all have the latest safety equipment installed. Should a fire occur, the elevators would automatically be recalled to the main floors and the doors opened. The escalators and moving sidewalks are equipped with fire and smoke detectors which will cause them to stop automatically should a fire be detected.


An airbridge connected to an Airbus A320.

KKIA was the first airport in the Kingdom to install airbridges, to speed up handling and turnaround times. Each terminal has eight gates with airbridges effectively eliminating the need for bus journeys between the terminal buildings and waiting aircraft.


KKIA has more than 500,000 square metres (5,400,000 sq ft) of landscaping. Over 225,000 trees, vines, shrubs and ground cover plants were used to landscape the airport site and the interior courtyards. A factor in the landscape design was the limited availability of irrigation water. All of the plants selected for the site are tolerant of heat, wind and dry soil conditions. Wherever possible, plants with a history of successful growth in the Riyadh area or similar environments were selected.


This facility has five separate fire houses, with several modern firefighting vehicles, and trained firefighters. The location also has security equipment and a security force.

Parking facilities[edit]

Two large three-level garages have been constructed directly in front of the passenger terminals, one on either side of the airport mosque. They are connected to the terminals and to the mosque by pedestrian walkways under the arrivals level roadway. The design capacity of the garages is 11,600 vehicles. The garages are built of cast-in-place concrete, and each covered level is 4 metres (13 ft 1 in) high. Escalators and elevators are available in these garages, as well as stairways between the different levels.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Aegean Airlines Athens
Air Arabia Alexandria, Assiut, Cairo, Sharjah
airblue Islamabad, Lahore
Air Cairo Assiut, Cairo, Giza,[28] Sohag
Seasonal: Sharm El Sheikh[29]
Air China Beijing–Capital[30]
Air India Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai
Air India Express Hyderabad, Kannur, Kochi, Kozhikode[31]
Air Montenegro Charter: Podgorica
AJet Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen[32]
Akasa Air Mumbai[33]
Ariana Afghan Airlines Kabul
Azerbaijan Airlines Baku[34]
Badr Airlines Khartoum (suspended), Port Sudan
BeOnd Malé[35]
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Dhaka
British Airways London–Heathrow
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong (resumes 28 October 2024)[36]
China Eastern Airlines Shanghai–Pudong[37]
China Southern Airlines Beijing–Daxing,[38] Shenzhen[39]
Egyptair Alexandria, Cairo
Emirates Dubai–International
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
flyadeal Abha, Amman–Queen Alia, Bahrain, Baku, Batumi, Cairo,[40] Dammam, Dubai–Al Maktoum,[41] Dubai–International, Ha'il, Istanbul, Jeddah, Jizan, Khartoum (suspended), Kuwait City,[42] Medina,[43] Muscat, Najran, Sharm El Sheikh, Tabuk,[44] Ta'if, Tbilisi
Seasonal: Antalya,[45] Bodrum,[45] Larnaca,[46] Sarajevo,[45] Trabzon[45]
flydubai Dubai–International
FlyEgypt Cairo, Sohag[47]
flynas Abha, Addis Ababa,[48] Al Baha, Alexandria, Al Jawf, Al Ula, Amman–Queen Alia, Arar,[49] Assiut, Baghdad, Bahrain, Baku, Beirut,[50] Bisha, Bodrum,[51] Cairo, Dammam, Delhi,[52] Doha,[53] Dubai–Al Maktoum (resumes 1 September 2024),[54] Dubai–International, El Dabaa (begins 3 July 2024),[55] Gassim, Giza,[56] Gurayat, Ha'il, Hatay[citation needed], Hyderabad,[57] Islamabad, Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen, Jeddah, Jizan, Karachi, Khartoum (suspended), Kozhikode,[58] Kuwait City, Lahore, Lucknow,[59] Medina, Moscow–Vnukovo, Mumbai, Muscat, Najran, Sharm El Sheikh, Sohag,[60] Tabuk, Ta'if, Tashkent,[61] Tbilisi, Tirana, Trabzon
Seasonal: Antalya,[62] Hurghada,[63] Istanbul,[64] Mykonos,[65] Prague,[66] Salalah,[63] Salzburg,[67] Santorini,[65] Sarajevo, Tivat, Vienna, Yerevan[68]
Gulf Air Bahrain
Himalaya Airlines Kathmandu
IndiGo Delhi, Hyderabad,[69] Kochi, Mumbai[70][71]
Iraqi Airways Seasonal charter: Baghdad
ITA Airways Rome–Fiumicino[72]
Jazeera Airways Kuwait City
Kam Air Kabul[73]
KLM Amsterdam[74][75]
Kuwait Airways Kuwait City
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw–Chopin[76]
Lufthansa Bahrain, Frankfurt
Middle East Airlines Beirut
Nepal Airlines Kathmandu
Nesma Airlines Cairo
Seasonal: Sohag[77]
Nile Air Cairo
Oman Air Muscat
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Sialkot[78]
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen
Seasonal: Trabzon[79]
Philippine Airlines Manila
Qatar Airways Doha[80]
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia[81]
SalamAir Muscat[82]
Saudia Abha, Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Al Baha, Alexandria, Al Jawf, Al Ula, Al Wajh, Amman–Queen Alia, Arar, Bahrain, Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi,[83] Barcelona,[84] Beijing–Daxing,[85] Beirut, Bisha, Cairo, Casablanca, Dammam, Dawadmi, Delhi, Dhaka, Doha,[86] Dubai–International, Frankfurt, Gassim, Geneva, Guangzhou, Gurayat, Ha'il, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta,[87] Jeddah, Jizan, Karachi, Khartoum (suspended), Kochi, Kozhikode, Kuala Lumpur–International, Kuwait City, Lahore, London–Heathrow, Lucknow, Madrid, Male, Manila, Mauritius, Medina, Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, Najran, Neom Bay,[88] New York–JFK, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Peshawar, Qaisumah, Rafha, Red Sea,[89] Rome–Fiumicino, Seoul–Incheon (ends 21 June 2024),[90] Sharm El Sheikh, Sharurah, Tabuk, Ta'if, Turaif, Wadi al-Dawasir, Washington–Dulles, Yanbu, Zürich[91]
Seasonal: Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona,[92] Batumi, Izmir, Makassar, Málaga, Milan–Malpensa, Mykonos,[93] Nice,[94] Salalah, Surabaya, Vienna[95]
Serene Air Peshawar[96]
SkyUp Cairo
SpiceJet Kozhikode, Mumbai
SriLankan Airlines Colombo–Bandaranaike
Sudan Airways Khartoum (suspended)
Syrian Air Damascus (begins 7 July 2024)[97]
Tarco Aviation Khartoum (suspended), Port Sudan
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
Seasonal: Antalya, Trabzon[98][99]
Wizz Air[100] Budapest, Rome–Fiumicino, Vienna
Seasonal: Milan–Malpensa
Yemenia Aden


Aerotranscargo[101][102] Dubai–Al Maktoum, Fujairah, Hahn, Hong Kong, Sharjah
Atlas Air[103] Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Delhi, Hahn, Hong Kong, Zaragoza
Cargolux[citation needed] Hanoi, Luxembourg
Cathay Cargo[104] Dubai–Al Maktoum, Hong Kong
Central Airlines[105] Shenzhen
China Southern Airlines[citation needed] Guangzhou
DHL International Aviation ME[citation needed] Bahrain
Ethiopian Cargo[citation needed] Addis Ababa, Kuwait City, Zaragoza
Lufthansa Cargo[106] Frankfurt, Sharjah, Taipei–Taoyuan
Qatar Airways Cargo[107] Doha
Saudia Cargo[108] Addis Ababa, Amsterdam, Bangalore,[108] Brussels, Dammam, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Houston–Intercontinental, Hyderabad, Jeddah, Lagos, Milan–Malpensa, Mumbai, Nairobi, New York–JFK, Shanghai–Pudong, Sharjah
Turkish Cargo[109] Istanbul, Mumbai

Traffic statistics[edit]

A Saudia Boeing 747-400 at the gate
A Saudia Airbus A320 at the gate
An Etihad Airways Airbus A340 at the gate
Annual passenger traffic at RUH airport. See Wikidata query.
Statistics for King Khalid International Airport
Year Total passengers Total Aircraft movements
1998 8,055,000 70,909
1999 8,234,000 73,336
2000 8,411,000 74,945
2001 8,737,000 75,535
2002 9,045,000 75,623
2003 9,168,000 74,600
2004 9,911,000 77,327
2005 10,573,000 84,555
2006 11,017,000 94,250
2007 11,783,000 112,210
2008 11,540,000 114,429
2009 12,674,000 127,666
2010 13,616,000 129,613
2011 14,898,000 135,757
2012 17,069,000 153,533
2013 18,585,000 161,314
2023 37,000,000[110] 239,000[111]


The airport will undergo a mass expansion by 2030, by increasing its area to 57 km2. (22 sq.mi.), consisting of three to four large passenger terminals, from two runways to six runways among other facilities and amenities. It will be able to handle 120 million passengers per year after 2030, and 185 million passengers per year by 2050. This expansion will include the airport among the world's largest airports.[14][112]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Media related to King Khalid International Airport at Wikimedia Commons