Dubai: Dubai International Airport (DXB) will remain steadfast in its commitment to upgrade facilities and technology at its main hub in the emirate, according to Dubai Airports’ CEO, Paul Griffiths. This is despite carriers Emirates and flydubai placing a joint order for 125 new Boeing wide-body Dreamliners.
The initial phase of upgrades will focus on Terminal 2 and Concourses C and E at Terminal 3, Griffiths added.
In the longer term, we aim to eliminate check-ins altogether, envisioning a scenario where travelers drop their bags, enjoy dining or shopping at the airport, and board their plane without the hassles they dislike.
Processing an average of 7.6 million travellers per month, Dubai Airports revised its full-year 2023 forecasts to 86.8 million from 85 million on Wednesday.
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No more check-ins?
DXB is in the process of integrating its check-in and immigration processes for passengers, the CEO added.
“We're already testing technology and hope to roll it out shortly,” said Griffiths. By next year, the airport hopes to have a technical solution, with ongoing trials and incremental changes improving the customer journey compared to today's experiences.
This development will mark a significant shift from the current setup with physical barriers, aiming for a seamless journey without interruptions. “Our focus is not just on additions but on simplifying the process by removing the need for separated processes,” he added.
The goal is to integrate immigration and check-ins seamlessly. “In the longer term, we aim to eliminate check-ins altogether, envisioning a scenario where travelers drop their bags, enjoy dining or shopping at the airport, and board their plane without the hassles they dislike,” he added.
Increased capacity a priority
DXB can hold up to 118-120 million passengers and is close to hitting a 100 million capacity milestone.
The new orders from Emirates and flydubai, placed amid the Dubai Airshow this year, combined with the fast-growing passenger numbers, make it imperative for the airport to boost its existing capacities at the mega hub as soon as possible.
“We cannot stop, we will not stop, and we will continue to make the passenger journey more exciting and less stressful for passengers when they choose their journey when up to 70 per cent of them can use an alternative hub,” Griffiths told Gulf News.
“We have to make sure we don’t end up with a capacity shortage. That’s why the pressure is really on to deliver in short order. But we’ve got plenty of experience delivering these mega projects over a very compressed timeframe,” he added.
Will Dh6-10 billion budgets be revised?
DXB had earmarked a budget of Dh6 to Dh10 billion for the makeover, to be completed over the next 5-7 years. However, Griffiths confirmed that the airport may have to go with a whole new forecast given the new orders.
“I think we probably are going to have to do a whole new forecast of what these new orders mean for capacity, at DXB in particular. It is going to be quite a demanding program and I'd need to sit down with my engineering team to find out what the best way of approaching it is,” he added.
Expansion to DWC?
Despite the rapidly growing demand, the airport’s decision to expand its operations to its second hub in Dubai World Central remains a ‘long-term’ goal, Griffiths. “The provision of good quality capacity in ample measure is the focus of the master plan. And that has to be an airport system approach across both airports. It can’t be just DXB or just DWC. It has to be both," he explained.
“Ultimately, we will reach the limits of what DXB can accommodate. And it’s a question of time but a huge financial commitment that will take several years to come to fruition. But it is a logical step from optimising what we’ve got at the moment,” stated the airport CEO.
Terminal 2 expansion for flydubai
The Terminal 2 upgrade will be near completion sometime next year, which was an early objective of the world’s busiest airport, given flydubai’s dramatic growth (about 166 per cent) over the past few years. And that has been consolidated with wide body orders from the airline, said Griffiths.
He explained, “The Terminal 2 expansions will create more lounge space, more seating areas, enhance retail, and have better restaurants. It will feel more spacious and airy than it currently is.” According to Dubai Airports, some 21 airlines operate out of Terminal 2, most of which are flydubai operations. Some regional and international airlines also fly out of Terminal 2.
Terminal 3 enhancements
The airport also has some significant programmes for refurbishment and expansion for Concourse C to accommodate more customers. “We also have the rebuilding of Concourse E, which is a dramatic and much-needed expansion in our passenger handling capacity. And the general upgrade across the whole airport of its restaurants and some of the retail experiences,” Griffiths added.