DUBAI, UAE – Emirates is expecting to become the largest airline in 2020 by international traffic, with a fleet of over 250 aircraft ferrying 70 million passengers.
It is currently the largest operator of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, with an order for 53 and 64 more of each vehicle respectively.
Emirates President Tim Clark disclosed the carrier’s growth plans Tuesday before delegates of the Bureau International des Expositions, who were visiting the UAE to make their final decision on the host city for the World Expo 2020.
However, being the biggest airline is not the end goal. “Our aim has always been to connect travellers from around the world to Dubai and other destinations with just a single stop via our hub,” Clark said. Dubai’s strategic location helps Emirates to serve almost 90 per cent of the world’s population with non-stop flights.
“Our location is a key advantage,” Clark said. “The leaders of Dubai recognised this from the onset, and that is why Emirates is investing in the most advanced long-haul aircraft, and why Dubai has invested over the years to develop its infrastructure for international commerce and tourism.”
Over a third of the world’s population lives within a four-hour flight from Dubai, and two-thirds are within an eight-hour flight.
In addition to nearly 3,200 flights per week to 135 destinations in 76 countries, the airline this year starts services to Conakry in Guinea, Sialkot (Pakistan) and Kabul.
The number of visitors at the Dubai International Airport has virtually doubled from 24.8 million in 2005 to 47.2 million in 2010.
Last year, the airport handled 57 million passengers from 225 destinations, arriving on more than 140 airlines. In 2020, Dubai expects to welcome over 20 million visitors and airport infrastructure has been gearing up to meet this demand.
It opened Terminal 3 dedicated to Emirates’ operations in 2008, and recently opened a new Concourse A for Emirates’ A380 operations.
Work is also underway at Dubai International Airport on a Concourse D to expand handling capability for the other airlines operating international flights. It is due for completion in 2015.
Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, which started freighter operations in June 2013, will welcome its first passenger flights Sunday. By the mid-2020s, the airport will have the capacity to handle 160 million passengers and 12 million tons of cargo.