Dubai Airports will work out master plan to expand passenger capacity
Dubai Airports is planning to hold a meeting in December to discuss the way forward on the expansion of the Dubai International Airport (DXB) and the emirate’s second hub Al Maktoum International Airport (Dubai World Central), its chief executive said.
The emirate is looking to boost capacity at Dubai International, the world’s busiest hub, to 120 million passengers annually in 2023, up from 90 million currently, by “investing in technology to improve traffic flow, which will provide enough growth for the sector through to early-to-mid 2030s”, Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports chief executive, told The National.
This will give “breathing space” to consider the ultimate design and development of Dubai World Central’s phase two expansion to 120 million annual passengers.
“We’ve got a meeting next month to consider all the options and hopefully before the end of the year we may have some announcements to confirm the strategy. Its an integrated programme between the two,” he said.
Dubai is the hub for Emirates, which has used its position at a crossroads between Europe and Asia to develop an unparalleled network of intercontinental connections. Emirates, the biggest customer of the airport operator, carried 29.6 million passengers during the first half of the fiscal year and its passenger seat factor – which measures how many seats an airline can fill, rose to 81.1 per cent – from 78.8 per cent last year.
The decision to end the A380 programme by Airbus, of which Emirates was a primary customer, does not have a direct infrastructure impact on DWC because the master plan is “aircraft-agnostic” to accommodate new trends in technology, Mr Griffiths said.
Dubai International expects its passenger tally this year to be approximately on par with last year’s traffic, clipped by weaker global air travel demand and operational challenges, but will remain the world’s busiest international hub.
A 45-day runway refurbishment in April that reduced capacity, the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max since March and collapse of India’s Jet Airways during the summer have impacted growth at the hub, Mr Griffiths said.
“Those three events have had a depressive impact,” he said.
Mr Griffiths expects Dubai International to serve as many customers this year as it did in 2018. “We had quite a positive October. Once November and December are through, we’re going to keep our fingers crossed that we will end up at least at parity to where we were in 2018,” he said. “It won’t be a blockbuster year for us because of those factors.”
“We’re still unassailably the largest international hub in world, and intend to be and will continue to be,” he said. “There is no chance of any airport surpassing our position.”
Over the next few years the industry outlook forecasts growth of around 1.5 per cent to 1.7 per cent and expansion at Dubai International is likely be in line with that trend.
The Dubai Airports chief is bullish on prospects of future growth fuelled by Chinese passengers.