BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
With the global financial crisis slowly slipping away in the rearview mirror, Dubai is looking forward and tackling the future with renewed vigour. The financial crisis and still sombre economic mood in Europe has not deterred the emirate’s focus on progressing the key tenets of Dubai’s Strategic Plan, including a strong focus on developing new infrastructure projects and developing the transportation, trade and tourism sectors.
Dubai Airports plays no small part in achieving these targets and features prominently in Dubai’s future plans.
As the gateway to the city and the United Arab Emirates, Dubai Airports’ mandate is to ensure that the front door to Dubai remains wide open. That means developing airport infrastructure that provides capacity ahead of growing demand and caters for the expansion of both Emirates airline and flydubai. Both airlines continue to expand their networks and fleets aggressively and it is up to Dubai Airports to ensure that the airport is able to accommodate that growth and the economic expansion that growth facilitates in the broader economy.
Passenger traffic at Dubai International continues to grow rapidly, surging 16.1 per cent in the first quarter of the year to 14.2 million. This puts Dubai International firmly on track to achieving a total throughput of 56.5 million passengers for the full year, growth which in all likelihood will put our airport ahead of Hong Kong International Airport as the world’s third busiest airport in terms of international passenger numbers. Over the next eight years to 2020 passenger numbers are expected to grow to 98 million.
Similarly cargo volumes continue to grow, particularly at Dubai World Central, Dubai’s newest and second airport. In the first three months of 2012 cargo volumes at the airport rose 382.3 per cent to 50,062 tonnes while at Dubai International volumes during same period rose 1.1 per cent to 517,440 tonnes, up from 512,057 tonnes during the corresponding period in 2011.
By 2020 we expect that total cargo volumes at both airports will have reached 4 million tonnes.
To meet this growing demand for passenger and cargo traffic, Dubai Airports has and will continue to invest in new infrastructure in the decade ahead.
In the immediate future, Dubai International is preparing for the opening of Concourse 3, the world’s first dedicated A380 hub, during the first quarter of 2013. This will take Dubai International’s total capacity from 60 million passengers a year to 75 million.
The new facility is unique in many ways. It will have the first terminal train in the Middle East, taking passengers from Terminal 3 to the new concourse and back. It will also have dedicated floors for first and business class travellers, allowing them to board their aircraft directly from the lounges. The building will be 90m wide and 645m long, with a total built-up area of 528,000 square metres and ability to gate up to 20 Airbus A380 aircraft at one time.
But our expansion plans do not end there. As the Concourse 3 project nears completion, work has already begun on phase one of the US$7.8 billion Strategic Plan 2020 which will boost Dubai International’s annual capacity to 90 million passengers by 2018 through several airport and airspace expansion projects.
As part of the plan, work to expand Terminal 2 to almost double its existing capacity continues apace, with construction well underway on the new check-in facilities. Design work for the new Concourse 4, which will be dedicated to more than 110 international airlines, is also underway.
Cargo capacity will be augmented with an additional 30,000 square metre expansion to the Cargo Mega Terminal. And, as cargo volumes grow, we expect a growing number of operators to move their operations to Dubai World Central, taking advantage of the bonded link road between the airport and Jebel Ali port.
Beyond 2020, the expansion of Dubai International envisaged in the strategic plan and the additional aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenue generated by the increased footfall, will provide Dubai Airports with the funding to develop the next phases of Dubai World Central. We expect DWC will provide capacity of about 80 million passengers a year needed to accommodate the relocation of the Emirates airline hub operation sometime in the middle of the next decade.
The new airport when fully developed will have capacity for 160 million passengers with five runways, making it the biggest airport in the world.
However, as we build for the future, we are not only focusing on physical infrastructure but also on continually improving our service to our passengers. It is the interaction with our staff that ultimately moulds the impression our passengers have of our airports.These initiatives include, but aren’t limited to, the expansion of the May I Help You programme last year to 500 staff and the launch earlier this year of high-tech Information Zones that put all the information passengers need at their fingertips. This investment ensures that our passengers’ passage through Dubai International is a pleasant and enjoyable experience and that they will keep using our airport well into the future.
Our belief is that the additional capacity will position us as the world’s biggest airport in terms of international passenger numbers by the end of the decade while the continued investment in service will see Dubai International rated as the airport with the world’s best service. Dubai Airports believes that this development and investment will in turn continue to boost to Dubai’s overall economic growth. Last year an Oxford Economics report showed that in 2010 the aviation sector supported more than 250,000 jobs and contributed more than US$22 billion to Dubai’s GDP. This represented around 19 per cent of total employment in Dubai and 28 per cent of Dubai’s GDP.
Oxford Economics estimates that the planned expansion to the aviation sector in the next decade is expected to boost this contribution significantly, supporting 373,000 jobs in Dubai and contributing US$45.4 billion to Dubai’s GDP by 2020. This will bring the sector’s contribution to Dubai’s GDP to 32 per cent and 22 per cent of its employment by the end of the decade.
It is clear to Dubai Airports that our airports are not only vital in keeping Dubai open for business with the outside world but contribute significantly to building the emirate’s economy and ensuring its future prosperity.