King Khalid International Airport
King Khalid International Airport (Arabic: مطار الملك خالد الدولي) is located 35 kilometres (21.7 mi) north of Riyadh
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, designed by the architectural firm HOK
Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum
HOK is a global architecture, interiors, engineering, planning and consulting firm. HOK is the largest U.S.-based architecture-engineering firm and the "No. 1 role model for sustainable and high-performance design." HOK also is the second-largest interior design firm...


The airport includes the terminals, mosque, the control tower and two parallel runways, each 4200 metres (13,779.5 ft) long. It has been constructed to meet the increasing international and local air transport requirements for Riyadh region.

It was an alternative landing site for NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...



The United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 effectively took over these facilities temporarily from August 1990 through May 1991 as an airbase
An airbase is a military airfield that provides basing and support of military aircraft....

 for aerial refueling
Aerial refueling
Aerial refueling, also called air refueling, in-flight refueling , air-to-air refueling or tanking, is the process of transferring fuel from one aircraft to another during flight....

 tanker operations in support of the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. The military unit based here was the 1703rd Air Refueling Wing (Provisional).

The 1703rd ARW(P) was composed mainly of KC-135 Stratotankers and used the north western firehouse as its headquarters
Headquarters denotes the location where most, if not all, of the important functions of an organization are coordinated. In the United States, the corporate headquarters represents the entity at the center or the top of a corporation taking full responsibility managing all business activities...

 of air operations. These tanker operations were supported by Patriot Missile battery elements of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

's 5th Battalion 52d Air Defense Artillery
5th Battalion 52d Air Defense Artillery
The 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment is an air and missile defense battalion in the United States Army based at Fort Bliss, Texas. Known as "five-five-deuce," the battalion motto is "Fighting Deuce." The former motto was "One Team, One Fight!"...

, a large contingent of Security Forces
Security Forces
Security Forces can refer to:*United States Air Force Security Forces*Iraqi security forces...

 from F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Cheyenne is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Wyoming and the county seat of Laramie County. It is the principal city of the Cheyenne, Wyoming, Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Laramie County. The population is 59,466 at the 2010 census. Cheyenne is the...

, as well as small French and New Zealand military contingents of the Gulf war coalition.

In addition, during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, the airport was the home to 205 General Evacuation Hospital RAMC of the British Army, who were accommodated at the nearby Singles Compound. The families of the airport workers are still living in K.K.I.A Housing Facility.

Terminals, airlines and destinations

There are four main passenger terminals at the airport.

Terminal 1
This terminal is used for all international flights, except those operated by Air France, Saudi Arabian Airlines, and NAS Air.
Terminal 2
This terminal is used by Air France, Saudi Arabian Airlines and NAS Air for their international flights.
Terminal 3
This terminal is used for all domestic flights.
Terminal 4
  • This terminal is unused, having never been utilised since construction, and remains without air bridges.

The terminals are connected to each other by means of three linking buildings, These buildings are 168 metres (551.2 ft) long. Each terminal is triangularly shaped, it has a triangular base of 47500 square metres (56,809.5 sq yd) 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.

Cargo Terminal

The Royal Terminal

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) wide and 390 metres (1,279.5 ft) 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 (98.4 ft) above the ground level. Glass walls and windows illuminate the interior of the building.

General Aviation Terminal

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 Al-Salam Aircraft Corporation. Programmed Depot Maintenance (PDM) on Royal Saudi Air Force aircraft is performed at the uniquely designed facility.

Structure and facilities

Airport infrastructure Infrastructure details for King Khalid International Airport
Aspect Details
Runways 2
Runway length 4205 m (13,796 ft)
Runway width 60 m (197 ft)
Runway shoulders 7.5 m (25 ft) x 2
Runway paved blast pads 120 m (394 ft) x 2
Taxiway width 23 m (75 ft)
Taxiway shoulders 13 m (43 ft) x 2
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

Centrally located in the passenger terminal complex, between the Royal Pavilion and the mosque is the air traffic control tower standing at 81 metres (265.7 ft) high.

There are 19 separate floor levels in the tower, including the operations area at the base of the tower and a total of 1230 square metres (1,471.1 sq yd) 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.

Inter-terminal connectivity

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 1196 metres (3,923.9 ft) of the walkways, which are actually wide conveyor belts which operate at floor level and move at a speed of close to 1 metres 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.


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.

The Masjid

The design of KKIA Mosque is one of the most distinct landmarks in the airport by virtue of its Islamic architecture. It can accommodate 5,000 worshipers inside and another 5,000 in the plaza outside. Its location in the center of the passenger terminal establishes it as the most important structure on the airport and makes it the first sight visitors see as they leave the arrival area. The dome is 33 metres (108.3 ft) in diameter and towers 40 metres (131.2 ft) above the arrivals level roadway, higher than all of the other structures in the passenger complex with the exception of the control tower and minaret.

In the northeast corner of the mosque plaza, a minaret rises 39 metres (128 ft) above the plaza level. A spiral stairway inside the minaret provides access to loudspeakers that broadcast the daily five times call prayers. There are 5030 square metres (6,015.8 sq yd) of floor space on the main floor of the mosque and another 765 square metres (914.9 sq yd) on the mezzanine floor. A Koranic library off of the main mosque floor has 50 square metres (59.8 sq yd) of user space and the same amount for storage space. The library, private offices and lavatories are located along the southeast on southwest walls.


KKIA has more than 500000 square metres (597,995 sq yd) 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
Fire station
A fire station is a structure or other area set aside for storage of firefighting apparatus , personal protective equipment, fire hose, fire extinguishers, and other fire extinguishing equipment...

, with several modern fire fighting vehicles
Fire apparatus
A fire apparatus, fire engine, fire truck, or fire appliance is a vehicle designed to assist in fighting fires by transporting firefighters to the scene and providing them with access to the fire, along with water or other equipment...

, and trained firefighter
Firefighters are rescuers extensively trained primarily to put out hazardous fires that threaten civilian populations and property, to rescue people from car incidents, collapsed and burning buildings and other such situations...

s. The location also has security
Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime. Security as a form of protection are structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition. The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies in the OSSTMM 3 defines security as "a form of protection...

 equipment and a security force
Security guard
A security guard is a person who is paid to protect property, assets, or people. Security guards are usually privately and formally employed personnel...


Parking Facilities

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 (13.1 ft) high. Escalators and elevators are available in these garages, as well as stairways between the different levels.

Traffic statistics

The airport has had steadily increasing passenger numbers.
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 ESTIMATE 13,919,000 134,616

Accidents and incidents

  • On 19 August 1980, Saudia Flight 163
    Saudia Flight 163
    Saudia Flight 163 was a scheduled passenger flight of Saudia that caught fire after takeoff from Riyadh International Airport on a flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 19 August 1980...

     operating Karachi
    Karachi is the largest city, main seaport and the main financial centre of Pakistan, as well as the capital of the province of Sindh. The city has an estimated population of 13 to 15 million, while the total metropolitan area has a population of over 18 million...

    Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

    Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

    , was completely destroyed by fire at Riyadh airport with the loss of all people on board the L-1011 Tristar.

  • On 8 May 2009, Saudia MD-90 registration HZ-APW performing ferry flight SV-9061 from Jeddah to Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) with 8 crew on board attempted to exit onto high speed turnoff resulting in the left main gear to collapse and the airplane resting on the left wing. The crew evacuated through the front door slides. No injuries occurred, the airplane however received substantial damage to its left wing.

  • On 27 July 2010 at 11:38 local time, Lufthansa Cargo Flight 8460
    Lufthansa Cargo Flight 8460
    Lufthansa Cargo Flight 8460 was an international cargo flight, operated by a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, which, on 27 July 2010, crashed upon landing at King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.- Aircraft :...

    , an MD-11 registered D-ALCQ, crashed upon landing at King Khalid International Airport
    King Khalid International Airport
    King Khalid International Airport is located north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, designed by the architectural firm HOK.The airport includes the terminals, mosque, the control tower and two parallel runways, each long...

    , Riyadh
    Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

    , Saudi Arabia
    Saudi Arabia
    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

     and was damaged beyond repair in the ensuing fire. The Pilot in command
    Pilot in command
    The pilot in command of an aircraft is the person aboard the aircraft who is ultimately responsible for its operation and safety during flight. This would be the "captain" in a typical two- or three-pilot flight crew, or "pilot" if there is only one certified and qualified pilot at the controls of...

     and the First Officer — the only two persons on board — could leave the aircraft by themselves.

External links

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