Passenger Capacity To Touch 12m In 3 Years at Dubai’s Al Maktoum Airport



DUBAI — Passenger capacity at Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), Dubai’s future aviation superhub, could be set to nearly double to 12 million over the next three years, according to the airport operator’s top executive.

“The first phase will be to expand the existing passenger terminal building to probably go between 10 and 12 million [passengers a year],” said Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports chief executive, in an interview.

The current capacity is between 5 and 7 million passengers a year.

Griffiths said Dubai Airports is anxious to increase capacity in the next two to three years before Al Maktoum International-DWC “gets too full and causes disruptions”.

“[The] long-term plans [of airlines like flydubai] is to expand and obviously they’re much better to expand out at DWC … and so the last thing I want is them saying ‘we can’t go’ because there is no terminal capacity, so we have to proactively deal with that,” he said.

Dubai Airports is currently completing the masterplan for the DWC site, of which Griffiths said: “There is no other airport on the planet that has been conceived on this scale, particularly of this level of connecting passengers.”

No specific date has been set for when it will be completed with a capacity of 160 million passengers or more with the operator forecasting the “mid-2020s”.

“The major push for DWC will be the construction of the further four runways and the terminal complexes that will have to go in … we’re considering various options at the moment,” Griffiths said.

There is currently one runway at Al Maktoum International.

But Griffiths said that Al Maktoum International’s 12 million passengers would see it out to 2020, which once again suggests that it is unlikely that Emirates will switch its hubs before Expo 2020, which will be located in DWC.

There needs to be a capacity of at least 120 million passengers to move the Emirates hub, according to Griffiths, and the airline has previously forecast to carry 70 million passengers in 2020. However, from today, Emirates’ cargo division, SkyCargo, will permanently move its operations to the new airport.

The 12 million passenger capacity is unlikely to impact Dubai’s ability to cater to the 20 million visitors expected to visit the emirate for the Expo. Dubai International handled 66 million passengers in 2013 and its current capacity is 75 million. By 2020, Griffiths expects the airport to be handling around 100 million passengers a year. — WAM

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