AMMAN — As a maintenance worker examined an electronic notice board and a sanitation worker diligently waxed the floor to give it an extra shine, Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir’s voice could be heard through the speakers.
They were putting the finishing touches to the Queen Alia International Airport’s (QAIA) new passenger terminal, preparing it for the official opening on March 21.
“We’re going to have a Starbucks café there and a shawerma place to the left,” an Airport International Group (AIG) representative said, pointing to the nearly-ready venues.
“This is all about making passengers feel comfortable and relaxed,” he stressed.
The gate area was still quiet, awaiting the first groups of travellers.
“This is the final station, where the passengers will be waiting, each at his/her designated gate,” the AIG representative said, pointing to rows of empty seats.
The brand new seats looked ready for their much-anticipated debut.
“As you can see, it is an open space, just like international airports around the world,” he told The Jordan Times during a recent exclusive tour.
Ground breaking for the new airport terminal began in 2008, implemented by the AIG, the consortium in charge of the rehabilitation, expansion and operation of QAIA.
The 103,000-square-metre terminal "will open ready to handle a capacity of 12 million passengers", according to an AIG statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times.
"The current (old) building has a capacity to accommodate only 3.5 million passengers annually," the statement said.
"One of the important features of the new terminal is that passengers go through only one security checkpoint, unlike the old terminal where passengers were searched twice," noted the AIG representative, who did not give his name for administrative reasons.
"After this security check, every passenger is free to roam the duty-free shops and head to the restaurants," he added.
"The new terminal features ample food and beverage venues, shopping outlets, children’s play areas, clear signage, sufficient flight information screens, comfortable seating in waiting areas, and high levels of service at the customer assistance counter," the AIG said, elaborating on how the facility meets international standards.
"In addition, it is equipped with a state-of-the-art baggage handling system and security equipment."
There are 64 check-in counters at the new building and six conveyor belts in the baggage claim area.
"Arriving passengers won't have to stop by the customs checkpoint unless a sticker on their bag indicates they should," he noted.
"This saves time because not everyone will have to go through the security check at customs."
"The number of gates will be developed gradually to meet demand, as needed, towards the 12 million passengers per year," the AIG said.
"When the first phase of the new terminal is completed, a total of seven new contact stands, plus one temporary remote boarding lounge, will come into operation, serving 7 million passengers.
"Additionally, demolishing the airport’s [old] terminal will trigger another phase of the expansion plan, catapulting the total capacity to 9 million passengers per year," according to the statement.
The AIG said the $750-million terminal, which was tested by volunteers posing as passengers last month, was received with "excitement and interest for its unique design".
"In addition, volunteers were impressed by the ease of flow from the entrance to the gate area," the statement said.
The terminal is designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster, who designed the new Wembley Stadium in London, among other international landmarks.
The new terminal's roof design is inspired by bedouin tents and is composed of 127 concrete domes.
"The designer specifically asked to maintain the domes' cement-like colour, which, along with the pink shades in the interior, reflect the colours of Jordan," the AIG representative said.