Kuwaiti-Turkish team is surprise favourite to win big Kuwait airport job

A consortium led by Kuwait’s largest contractor has submitted the lowest bid for a contract to build a new passenger terminal and runway at Kuwait International Airport. 

A statement published on the central tender committee’s website on Monday said that a team led by Kharifa National, and containing Limak Holdings of Turkey, had offered to do the work for $4.8bn, which is understood to be nearly $1bn lower than the second lowest bid. 

Contrary to reports in the region’s press, which said the contract had been awarded, all bids will now go to the Ministry of Public Works for further consideration.  

The race to build the airport has been controversial. The project was announced in October 2011 but the first attempt to elicit tenders stalled after firms withdrew their bids, citing difficult contract terms.  

When the work was retendered last year, the Ministry of Public Works invited 27 firms to bid, of which 16 responded positively. The work was due to begin in April, and the expected price was $3.2bn. 

A source in the Al Anba newspaper said most of the firms were from Britain, "given the experience of British firms in the region and in executing similar projects worldwide". 

But many of these British firms walked away from the job in September, complaining that a number of Chinese contractors had entered the race and were offering unrealistically low bids in an attempt to break into the Gulf’s infrastructure market. 

Among the firms knows to have entered bids are China State Construction Engineering Corporation and Arabtec from the United Arab Emirates. 

A source from one of the UK firms told the Kuwait Times that the withdrawal reflected a belief that a Chinese consortium was certain to win the "price war". He commented: "My company withdrew although we had provided all guarantees and securities demanded by the Ministry of Public Works." 

The terminal is designed by Foster + Partners (pictured). It will consist of two buildings, each with a trefoil form made up of 1.2km long "wings". The capacity of the airport will be increased from about 8 million passengers a year to 25 million by 2025.  

The first phase of the scheme will include 120 check-in counters, "smart" parking areas, office space, two separate transit hotels and a metro station.

Story for GCR? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News