Today in Transportation History – March 14, 2013: Amman, Jordan Opens a New Airport Terminal

A major transportation development for the kingdom of Jordan took place when a new passenger terminal at the Middle East nation’s leading airport was dedicated. Jordan’s King Abdullah II attended the Thursday ceremony at Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) – located 20 miles south of the capital city of Amman – and formally inaugurated the state-of-the-art facility. (The airport was opened in 1983 and named after the third wife of Abdullah’s father King Hussein; she died in 1977.)

The terminal was designed by renowned architect Sir Norman Foster. One of the building’s key features is its roof, which consists of 127 concrete domes. The appearance of these domes was inspired by the tents traditionally used by Bedouin tribes, a group that makes up at least one-third of Jordan’s population. The terminal also includes an extensive duty-free section; a children’s play area; several car rental companies; various shopping outlets and food services; three lounges; and more than 60 check-in counters.

One of the main reasons for constructing the terminal in the first place was to better accommodate the large number of passengers traveling to and from an airport regarded as not only as Jordan’s primary international gateway but a pivotal transportation center for Asia, Africa, and Europe. The terminal was built to handle up to 12 million passengers annually, as opposed to the 3.5 million passengers that the airport’s older and outmoded terminals were able to accommodate on a yearly basis. Jordan’s Transport Minister Alaa Batayneh noted during the dedication ceremony that “opening the new terminal is a milestone for Jordan and will help meet passengers’ requirements.”

The Airport International Group (AIG), which operates QAIA, similarly highlighted at the time the facility’s long-term benefits. According to AIG CEO Kjeld Binger, “With its advanced capabilities, the airport will play a major role in placing Jordan on the map as an ideal choice for leisure and business travelers, as well as a convenient transfer hub bolstering the kingdom’s tourism and business traffic.”

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