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June 8, 2015
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Middle East: Expansion plans put DWC on the fast track


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Dubai’s aviation sector is accelerating its growth plans to keep pace with increasing global air passenger demand. Dubai Airports is expanding the passenger terminal at new mega hub, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), boosting the current capacity of six million passengers a year to 26 million by 2018.

The initiative is a precursor to the US$32 billion expansion project announced in September, at what will eventually become the world’s biggest airport with a 200-million passenger capacity. Dubai International has a limited capacity of 100 million passengers a year, with 126 million expected by 2020.

”There are demographic shifts happening within a decade that would usually take 100 years to achieve,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports.

He added: “Rising incomes are driving mobility and there is massive growth in travel demand from Asia Pacific.

Where better to be than Dubai, which is perfectly placed to connect maturing economies in the West with the rising economies in the East?

”With passenger forecasts now running more than 20 percent ahead of expectations for 2020, we need to find additional capacity within our existing space,” he continued.

“The challenge for us is how to make that a personal experience for passengers.”

Forward-thinking initiatives such as checking-in bags while in the taxi to the airport, to seamless security are on the agenda.

In 2014, Dubai International overtook London Heathrow to become the world’s busiest airport for international passenger traffic. The airport catered to 71 million international passengers over the 12-month period, surpassing the 68.1 million reported at the UK capital’s airport.

Air passenger demand in Dubai continues to exceed forecasts, with year-on-year increases already experienced in the first three months of 2015. In March, passenger traffic increased 7.2 percent to 6.73 million compared to 6.29 million in March 2014.

“Our first quarter growth puts us on track to meet our forecast of more than 79 million passengers in 2015, so we are already creeping up on the next volume-driven milestone, which will be the biggest airport in the world regardless of the number of passengers,” said Griffiths.

Upgrades at Dubai International are already underway, while the DWC enhancements will include the expansion of the passenger terminal to supersize the check-in area, baggage and immigration halls.

Dubai Airports is also factoring in Emirates’ eventual shift from Dubai International to DWC, with the Dubai flag carrier's President and CEO, Tim Clark, announcing plans to move to the new hub within the next 10 years.


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