Destination of the Week
Hello and welcome to our third Four Women DOTW event. This week takes us to an airport that was named in honour of Queen Alia, the third spouse to Jordan King Hussein, himself a fully qualified pilot. A daughter of Baha ud-Din Toukan (or Touqan), former Jordanian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Italy, Turkey and Egypt, Alia Baha Ad-Din Touqanwas born in Cairo, Egypt in December 1948. Her father was a Palestinian from Nablus, who had settled in Salt, near Amman. He served King Abdullah I, helped write the Jordanian Constitution and was Jordan's first Ambassador to the United Nations.
She spent most of her childhood years travelling with her parents during her father’s career in Jordan’s diplomatic corps: she lived in Egypt, Turkey, London, the United States and Rome. She attended Church School in London with her younger brothers, Alaa and Abdullah. She was educated at the Rome Center of Liberal Arts of Loyola University Chicago. She studied political science with a minor in social psychology, and public relations at Hunter College in New York. She was interested in sports and writing, and she wished to be a diplomat. In 1971, she moved to Jordan, where she worked for Royal Jordanian. She was asked by King Hussein bin Talal to oversee the preparations for the first International Water Skiing Festival held in Aqaba in September 1972. They had two children: Princess Haya and Prince Ali, and they also adopted Abir, a 5-year-old Palestinian girl whose mother had been killed by a plane crash at a refugee camp near the Amman airport.
Queen Alia founded the Office of the Queen of Jordan and gave it an active and public role. The active role she took in Jordan has been emulated by her successors, Queen Noor and Queen Rania. She financed social development projects, placing particular emphasis on women and children. She often made surprise visits to hospitals and national institutions, aiming to raise service standards and help people to help themselves. In her drive to ensure that children from impoverished backgrounds received their right to education, she fostered close ties with schools such as the Schneller School for Orphans, which took many of the street children that Queen Alia sent there. Her commitment to improving social services continued throughout her lifetime and was still pursued in her name after her death, when King Hussein ensured the continuation of the many educational scholarships given in her honour.
Queen Alia International Airport (OJAI) is Jordan's largest airport and is located in Zizya 30 kilometres (20 mi) south of the capital city, Amman. The airport is home to the country's national flag carrier, Royal Jordanian Airlines, and serves as a major hub for Jordan Aviation, Petra Airlines, Royal Falcon, and Royal Wings. A state-of-the-art new terminal was inaugurated in March 2013 to replace the airport's older two passenger terminals and one cargo terminal. The three original terminals were made obsolete once the new terminal officially began operations.
Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) was built in 1983 in response to the growing airport traffic needs that Amman Civil Airport could not accommodate. At the time, passenger traffic was increasing above the international average, recording 25–30% growth per annum and placing considerable pressure on airport facilities despite continuous expansion and development. In 1981, the number of arriving, departing, and transit passengers exceeded 2.3 million, while cargo traffic reached 62,000 tons and aircraft traffic topped 27,000 movements.
The Jordanian Ministry of Transport undertook to build a new international airport with sufficient capacity to cope with demand in the foreseeable future. Passenger facilities were designed to serve 3.5 million passengers per annum. QAIA has since grown to become the kingdom's primary international gateway and a stop-over for international airlines in the Middle East. By 2012, QAIA was serving on average more than 6 million passengers annually and 40 airlines from around the world.
In 2007 Jordan selected Airport International Group (AIG) through an open tender to operate, rehabilitate and manage QAIA under a 25-year concession agreement. In response to the continual surge in passenger traffic at the time, AIG was also placed in charge of constructing a new terminal, one which not only would expand the airport's then insufficient annual capacity of 3.5 million passengers, but that would also introduce a "unique travel experience" to help advance QAIA's position as a niche transit hub in the region. AIG is a Jordanian company.
Accordingly, AIG invested an estimated USD 750 million in the construction of the new terminal. Spanning over 103,000 square meters, the spacious building has improved infrastructure and cutting-edge facilities. Built in accordance with international standards, the new terminal has been installed with the latest technologies and automation systems that maximize efficiency, security, and service quality. The new terminal is also equipped to accommodate rising annual passenger traffic, taking the original airport capacity from 3.5 million passengers per year to 7 million.
In January 2014, AIG launched the second phase of QAIA's expansion that will raise QAIA's annual passenger traffic capacity to up to 12 million, subsequently supporting the Jordan's national tourism strategy goals to serve as a regional transit hub for leisure and business travel. The aims to boost its capacity to 16 million passengers annually by the end of the concession time frame in 2032.
QAIA's new design was created by architects Foster + Partners. It blends local heritage with contemporary architecture keeping a balance between aesthetics and practical functionality. Its main characteristic is the roof that was inspired by Bedouin tents and is composed of 127 concrete domes, each weighing up to 600 metric tonnes.
The airport has two lounges, one operated by Royal Jordanian for business and first class passengers, and the other exclusively run by telecom operator Zain Jordan for its VIP customers.
OJAI has two runways:
08R/26L, 12,008 ft, 3,660 m
08L/26R, 12,008 ft, 3,660 m
Charts are available for download hereunder. A (large) scenery file for FS2004 and FSX is available from Vatsim Jordan's website. Unfortunately, we could not find an X-Plane addon scenery.
Reminder to our pilots: all (multi-leg) flights between our five hubs may be filed as DOTW until 15 June 2015 - the fifth anniversary of our website going live.
And now our regular video selection. We'll start with an A320 approaching RWY26L.
The same approach, also filmed in an Airbus flightdeck, but at sunset has some amazing views. The "retard" command Airbus gives to commanding officers when they should flare will always sound peculiar...
Our final video on OJAI is (again) an A320 about to take off from RWY26L.
That's all for this week. Next week, we'll have our annual Santa flights in and out of Rovaniemi (EFRO). So get your sleigh in order, because we're counting down to Christmas. See you then.