Dubai Airport could become 3rd biggest in world this year - CEO

CEO expecting Dubai to outstrip Hong Kong in terms of passenger traffic growth
Dubai Airport could become 3rd biggest in world this year - CEO
“We may end up being the third largest airport in the world in terms of international passengers.” (ITP Images)
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Sun 11 Mar 2012 09:00 AM

Dubai International Airport could overtake Hong Kong International Airport to become the third largest aviation hub in the world this year, with its CEO expecting an 11 percent rise in annual passenger traffic.

Handling some 51m travellers in 2011, Dubai's primary airport is currently the fourth largest aviation hub globally after London's Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong International recorded a 5.9 percent increase in passengers to 53.9m in 2011, but Dubai believes its rate of growth will trump its Asian rival this year.

“With our growth this year, which will take us to 56.5m [passengers], about 11 percent growth, I think we will be hot on the heels of Hong Kong, we may even over take them,” CEO of Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths, told Arabian Business in an interview.

“We may end up being the third largest airport in the world in terms of international passengers.”

The long-term goal is to reach 90m people by 2018, he said, making Dubai International the largest airport in the world in terms of yearly passenger volume.

Though the airport will eventually be replaced with Al Maktoum International Airport, located in Dubai World Central, officials recently announced a US$7.8bn expansion plan for the existing facility in a bid to boost revenues prior to the move.

The plan includes adding a third concourse, while also expanding terminal two on the north side of the airport to accommodate the growth of low-cost carrier flyDubai.

Griffiths said completion of both facilities was planned for early 2013. 

“Concourse three is in the final stages of construction. We’ve probably got another nine months before an operational hand over can take place. That will boost our capacity to 75m, and give us 20 gates for the A380s. It will be quite a significant upgrade from what you saw when we opened concourse two in 2008.

“We’ve also got a concourse four in our plans,” he continued. “The idea is that it will cater for all the non-Emirates international airlines on the south side of the air field. That will give us about 18 additional gates [and] allow concourse one to be used exclusively by Emirates.

“It is in the last stages of the initial design concept. 2015-2016 is what we’re targeting [for completion].”

Dubai Airports will in the meantime focus on automation and more efficient processes to cut back on expenses and the need for new staff, Griffiths said.

This will include new technologies in passport control areas to automatically scan boarding passes, as well as more high-tech systems for detecting banned items and boosting visibility during security checks.

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