Dubai: Concourse 3 - the last major project at the Dubai International Airport, the region's biggest aviation hub - will be completed by the end of 2011, which will help increase the airport's passenger handling capacity to 80 million from the initially planned 70 million, a top official said.

When completed, Dubai International Airport will have three terminals and three concourses, two cargo 'mega' terminals, an airport free zone, an expo centre with three large exhibition halls, a major aircraft maintenance hub and a flower centre to handle perishable goods.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports Company, which has the mandate to operate both Dubai International and Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International (DWC-AMI) in Jebel Ali, also confirmed that phase one of the DWC-AMI would be open by June 2010.

"With Concourse 3 construction going ahead as planned and with some adjustments within our existing facilities, including Terminal 2, we will be able to increase Dubai International's capacity to 80 million per year," Griffiths told Gulf News in an interview yesterday.

"This will bring us closer to the capacity of the world's biggest airport, Atlanta, which has a capacity of around 89 million."

He said the recent pulling out of a construction consortium from the Concourse 3 project will not be a hindrance because a new contractor will soon be appointed to replace Al Habtoor-Murray and Roberts.

Passenger traffic at Dubai International has been growing by double digits year-on-year since the 1990s, when Dubai Government began investing heavily in the emirate's aviation infrastructure to manage the growing traffic, led by the growth of Emirates airline.

"About 40 per cent of our traffic is transit, which requires a different approach in the airport's capacity and service delivery. We have recently appointed a vice-president to look after the services within the airport," he said.

The airport last year handled more than 37.44 million passengers and is on track to receive 40 million this year, which will bring it halfway to full capacity of a projected 80 million.

"We are the only major airport in the world that has recorded growth in passenger throughput in the first quarter, despite the global economic crisis which has badly impacted the travel and tourism sector globally. We anticipate continued growth in air traffic in the region and thus we will continue to expand capacity as planned," Griffiths said.

Passenger traffic at Dubai International passed the 9.5 million mark in the first quarter of this year, registering an increase of two per cent over the corresponding period in 2008.

"The way air traffic is growing despite the current economic situation, we see it reaching full capacity in four to five years time," he said, explaining the airport's overall growth plan and the need to shift traffic to DWC-AMI - which has been initially planned as one of the world's first greenfield airports with a huge capacity of 120 million and six runways.

"As we are expanding capacity within Dubai International, the pressure to open DWC-AMIA is less. However, the first phase, which involves the first runaway, a terminal and associated facilities including the air traffic control tower, will be ready by early next year and we expect to open this by June 2010.

"However, the development of phase two, which is the construction of four more runways, terminal and concourse buildings, will progress in line with the traffic growth projections and could go beyond 2015."

DWC-AMI's master plan initially had provisions for six parallel runways.

"We have brought it down to five, which will give more space between the runways and will allow more take-offs and landings per hour, therefore helping us to handle 160 million passengers a year," he said.

DWC, when completed, is expected to host Dubai Exhibition City, Commercial City, Residential City, Dubai Logistics City, Dubai Aviation City and a golf resort - including more than 1,100 mid- to high-rise towers altogether.

In 2006 Dubai Government launched Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) - a Dh55 billion investment venture - to bring in aviation technology, know-how and develop aviation universities to groom human capital specialising in aviation technology to create a new aviation hub in the Middle East.

"I'm happy that the government is continuing the investment in the infrastructure that will help us to realise the vision," Griffiths said.

Dubai Combined passenger capacity at Dubai's two airports - Dubai International (DI) and Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International (DWC-AMI) - has been expanded to 240 million, from the 190 million capacity initially planned, a top government official said, adding that this reflects government's firm belief in the growth of the region's aviation and tourism industry, despite the current economic situation.

DI was initially planned to have a capacity of 70 million, and DWC-AMI a capacity of 120 million.

"We are planning to expand the capacity of DI to 80 million and DWC-AMI to 160 million, from 120 million initially planned," Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview yesterday.

"Construction of Concourse 3 will progress as planned and will be ready by the end of 2011. In addition to this, we will make some changes within the existing facilities and Terminal 2 to expand capacity to 80 million per year.

"With the capacity expansion within Dubai International, the pressure on us to open DWC-AMI is less. However, we will open the first phase of DWC-AMI in June next year and progress as per plan and shift traffic there gradually."

He said the completion of the DWC-AMI expansion project could thus be pushed back beyond 2015.

The Dubai Government has invested Dh15 billion in the expansion of DI, while the initial cost for the development of Dubai World Central - the world's largest integrated aviation hub - was estimated at Dh30 billion.

"I'm happy that the long-term vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is moving forward and the government is investing to realise the vision that will reinforce Dubai's position as a global hub," he said.

Meanwhile, flyDubai, the country's new budget airline, is all set to start operation in June from Dubai International Airport. The flights will be operated during the day, which will help the airport manage traffic more efficiently, Griffiths said.

With the launch of flyDubai, Griffiths said, the day-time traffic at Dubai International will go up significantly.

"It will also help us manage the traffic better in addition to serving so much night-time traffic at peak," he said.

"Dubai International is very busy in the night due to heavy night-time traffic. With mostly daytime flights, flyDubai will help us optimise capacity."

How do you rate the services at Dubai International Airport? What suggestions do you have to improve these services?

Your comments

Dubai airport has one of the best services I have ever seen so far when compared to the other airports around the globe which I have gone by.
Prasanth Krishnan Kutty
Posted: April 26, 2009, 09:47

FlyDubai is good news to everybody. Now we have our own low-cost airlines. I saw only two destinations. Any news of going to colombo?
Everard Fernando
Posted: April 26, 2009, 08:10