New Bahrain International Airport terminal set for Q1 2020 opening

By Andrew Pentol |


Bassam Al Wardi, General Manager, Bahrain Duty Free.

Bahrain Duty Free has outlined its vision ahead of the opening of the new $1.1bn terminal at Bahrain International Airport, scheduled for Q1 2020.

The new terminal feautring 104 check-in counters, 36 passport control booths and 24 security screening points will raise capacity to 14 million passengers per year. It will completely replace the existing terminal, according to Bassam Al Wardi, General Manager, Bahrain Duty Free.

Speaking exclusively to TRBusiness during the 2019 Middle East and Africa Duty Free Association event in Muscat, Oman, he said: “The magnitude of the new terminal is three-times the size of the current one. Passengers used to quick entries and exits will probably no longer have the privilege, but once again it will be a state-of-the-art airport.”

Known in Bahrain as a boutique concept airport, the facility will offer state-of-the-art facilities with additional services. “The terminal will reflect what we and the airport were trying to achieve, through the services that will be offered.”


From a regional standpoint, the terminal will be a little different from other airports in terms of design and layout. Al Wardi commented: “We are looking at an inaugural 5,000sq m of retail space, which is probably three-times what we have for the time being.

“Allowing us to have this kind of space, will enable us to do a lot of things we planned when refurbishing the departures area, but were ultimately unable to achieve.”


Retail space will be three-times larger than what is available at present.

Due to a lack of space, Bahrain Duty Free, which reported a net profit decrease of 8.6% to $4.56m in Q2 2019, was unable to introduce several brands and added on services to enhance the customer experience. “Now, we have the opportunity, but it is not only a matter of size and filling up brands.”

Bahrain Duty Free, which is part of Aer Rianta International and operated through Aer Rianta International Middle East has a clear strategy. “Understanding what the customer demands is key, even if you have the ‘specialist of the specialists’ basically deciding what the market requires in terms of needs.

“We have, however, regularly surveyed customers across all categories in terms of what they look for. We did exactly the same three years ago which was a success in terms of trying to bring on brands people actually want and not what we want.”

The retailer is also expanding the perfumes and cosmetics section from almost 600sq m to over 1,000sq m. “This will enable many brands to breathe a bit more and enable us to bring new brands which are available in travel retail.


Bahrain Duty Free is hoping ‘the right traffic’ in the new facility will take the retailer to the next level.

“Some brands will obviously be new introductions for the region if the terminal opens in Q1. Ultimately, it will be down to what the customer flying from Bahrain International Airport is looking for.”

While having over 1,000sq m for perfumes and cosmetics represents a significant opportunity, space will be increased for other categories including liquor, confectionery and tobacco. Al Wardi explained: “We are also giving fashion emphasis, so there will be several boutiques from brands such as Montblanc, Tumi, Hugo Boss, Emporio Armani and Ralph Lauren. We will also have a standalone shop for Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works.”


A mixed fashion area will feature brands such as Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Vilbrequin and Calvin Klein. “There will be many offers which are a little different to what the current visitor to the terminal is used to.

“It is affordable fashion, mid-class in terms of the category and not the extreme high-end what other airports have.”

The premium watches sector will be expanded, according to Al Wardi. “We will add around six brands and expand their footprint to provide more of a niche area on a more luxurious level to see how people react.”


The Premium watches sector will be expanded.

A 150sq m toy shop will be another element of the offer in the new terminal. “Usually, I don’t see much emphasis on this category in the region. The kids offering tends to be the smallest in terms of footprint.

“In this instance, it will be a bespoke concept and an excellent attraction, not only for kids, but adults themselves.”

The opening of the new terminal represents a significant transformation and should help the company fulfil its ambition to grow revenues and turnover. Al Wardi said: “The new terminal should have significant impact due to the expansion of the brand portfolio and Gulf Air and the increased traffic.

“All parties will be able to grow traffic which is what ever travel retailer is looking for. The right traffic of course should take us to the next level.”


Bahrain Duty Free has regularly surveyed customers across all categories in terms of what they look for.


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