Does Dubai need another airport?
It has the world’s tallest building, the flashiest hotel, and more artificial palm-shaped islands than anywhere else. So it was only a matter of time before Dubai built the world’s biggest airport. But is DXB 2.0 really necessary?
March 28, 2010 2:41 by Rasha Reslan
“Arab airlines were able to increase their market share tremendously, and that’s why they concluded the year with double digit growth,” says Abdul Wahab Teffaha, Secretary General of the Arab Air Carriers’ Organisation.
On top of this, regional carriers may see losses reducing from $1.2 billion in 2009 to just $300 million in 2010, thanks to increasing passenger demand and decreasing non-fuel costs.
But while Dubai will indeed need a new airport, it may not need one quite so big.
Existing capacity at Dubai International Airport is 60 million passengers a year, and infrastructure works at the airport will see this boosted to a maximum capacity of 90 million. Industry professionals predict that Dubai’s total passenger demand will approach 100 million by 2020 and reach 140 million by 2025.
If these predictions are accurate, DXB will indeed become inadequate. Capacity for 10 million additional passengers will be required by 2020, and 50 million by 2025. But does that warrant a new airport with a capacity of 160 million, bringing the total capacity to 250 million?
Would this represent over-capacity, an issue voiced previously by IATA concerning Gulf airlines in general?
Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports Co, told Emirates Business recently that the strategy behind the new airport involves a “gradual build-up” of passenger numbers.
But that build-up could be ever more gradual, not least because of the decision made by Emirates airline – Dubai’s flagship carrier, and principal customer at the new airport – to delay relocation to the new site.
Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, told The National that the airline aims to move to the new airport between 2022 and 2030, and not between 2018 and 2020 as previously planned. “We have refocused here [at Dubai International],” Mr Clark said. “With a certain amount of investment here, you can get a lot more out of this airport.”