By Andy Sambidge
Emirate's two airports handled 2.3m tonnes last year, slightly up on previous year
Dubai's two airports handled 2.3 million tonnes of cargo in 2011, slightly up from the previous year, as links between the emirate's air freight operations and sea ports improved, their operator said on Monday.
Government-run Dubai Airports owns and manages Dubai's two airports, Dubai International and the new Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International, which opened for cargo operations in 2010. The operator did not give a comparative figure for cargo handled by the two in 2010.
Trade and logistics are key drivers of growth in Dubai, which lacks the oil wealth of neighbouring Abu Dhabi. The emirate accounts for around 80 percent of the United Arab Emirates' non-oil trade but only 28 percent of its economic output.
Dubai World Central handled 89,729 tonnes of air freight last year, its first full calendar year of operations.
"Although the airport is in its infancy, incremental cargo traffic growth has been steady and continues to ramp up as new operations are launched," Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said in a statement.
"Sea to air freight traffic growth was particularly robust as airlines took advantage of the airport's bonded link to the Jebel Ali port." Cargo transit traffic accounted for 37 percent of the airport's volume.
Phase 1 of Dubai World Central's cargo facilities has been built and has the capacity to handle 600,000 tonnes of cargo per year. When the airport is fully completed, it will be able to handle 12 million tonnes of cargo and 120 million passengers a year, its website (www.dwc.ae) shows.
"By 2015, cargo volumes (in Dubai as a whole) will top 3 million tonnes exceeding the current capacity of Dubai International. We expect a good proportion of that growth to spill over to Dubai World Central," Griffiths said.
"As for passenger operations, Dubai International will continue to serve as the primary focus of expansion and we will be investing $7.8 billion to boost capacity to 90 million passengers by 2018."
Dubai International, the world's fourth busiest airport in terms of international passenger and cargo traffic, handled 51.0 million passengers last year, up from 47.2 million in 2010, it said earlier this month.
"Operational trials for Dubai World Central's passenger terminal are set to start during the second quarter of this year and we could see commercial passenger operations commence in 2013," Griffiths added.