Airport needs to add 100-million-passenger capacity


If you thought being at the home airport of the largest airline in the world in international traffic and departing from an airport that is equally busy 24/7 means capacity, you’re wrong in Dubai,

Dubai International, its main airport, is planning to add capacity to handle more than 100 million passengers by 2018, up from a current capacity of about 60 million and a previous goal of 90 million, by continuing with plans to build a fourth concourse and by improving the facility’s operations, Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, told The Wall Street Journal in a recent interview.

The government-owned company will also look to accelerate the capacity expansion of the new Al Maktoum International Airport, which is currently forecast to manage 160 million passengers by 2030, and potentially move Emirates to the new facility before 2020. Home carrier Emirates had originally been penciled in to move from Dubai International to the new airport in 2027.

Its credentials as a transport hub played a key role in Dubai’s recovery and the emirate is now looking to further increase capacity at its two international airports as it eyes economic expansion, according to the chief executive of Dubai Airports Co., which manages the facilities.

The plan is to move the Emirates hub sooner than originally forecast. A new focus is to develop the master plan that enables to create enough capacity at Dubai World Central to migrate the hub of Emirates.

The total infrastructure costs for Dubai World Central were originally forecast at about US$33 billion. The passenger targets Al Maktoum should increase beyond 160 million passengers by a “significant” amount, but the company was still “working on the numbers”. Dubai World Central first opened for cargo operations in 2010 and will begin passenger operations in October.

Dubai International, which currently hosts Emirates, became the world’s second busiest for international traffic in February handling some 4.8 million passengers, up 15% on year, according to Airports Council International, behind only London’s Heathrow which managed about 5.6 million. The Dubai hub handled a total 57 million passengers last year, and Dubai Airports forecasts it will surpass 65 million this year, while Heathrow catered to 70 million last year.

Emirates currently makes up about 64% of passenger traffic through Dubai International, while 10.7% of the traffic is accounted for by low-cost carrier Flydubai.

Emirates, which is the world’s largest airline by international traffic and a key component of Dubai’s ambitions, continues to grow at a rapid pace with passenger traffic increasing 16% to 39.4 million in the year to March 31. It had 198 aircraft on order in May worth more than US$71 billion at list prices.