The airport operator forecasts that annual passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport will reach 86.8 million this year
Dubai Airports said designs were being drawn up to expand Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), which will replace Dubai International (DXB) in the 2030s, as the demand for air travel has fully recovered from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The airport operator said once DXB, one of the world’s busiest airports, reaches an annual capacity of around 120 million passengers, the city will need a new airport.
“We are always re-engineering every single element of capacity that we’ve got and there are two ways of looking at this. We either build more capacity or optimise the process to get more capacity out of what we’ve already got,” Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports CEO tells Gulf Business.
“Over the next few years, we’ll be receiving 100 million passengers at DXB and beyond that, we’ll need a new airport because we probably can’t get much beyond 115 million or 120 million,” says Griffiths.
With a current capacity of 100 million passengers annually at DXB, the deployment of innovative technology, expansion and refurbishment of existing infrastructures and more efficient use of its space and resources is expected to propel the airport’s capacity to 120 million.
“Our immediate term strategy is to expand DXB because that’s where the demand is, and we’ve got some plans afoot to be able to invest in our existing facilities to make them more efficient and more effective,” he adds.
Dubai Airport surpasses projections
Meanwhile, DXB recorded 22.9 million passengers in the third quarter, the highest quarterly traffic since 2019, and annual passenger traffic is forecasted to reach 86.8 million in 2023, revised upwards from 85 million passengers in August.
Dubai Airports is expecting record-breaking numbers to continue in Q4 2023 and 2024.
With 8.9 million passengers in the first nine months of the year, India was DXB’s top country destination in terms of traffic volume, followed by Saudi Arabia with 4.8 million passengers, and the UK with 4.4 million passengers.
The airport operator said the top cities by traffic were London (2.7 million passengers) and Riyadh (1.9 million), closely followed by Mumbai (1.8 million) and Jeddah (1.7 million passengers).
Flight movements in Q3 2023 surged by 5.1 per cent in the third quarter to reach 106,000.
DXB handled 308,000 in total flight movements between January and September, up 25.2 per cent year-on-year.
Similarly, DXB’s baggage handling system processed a total of 57.5 million bags in 2023 with a success rate of 99.8 per cent – a rate of 2.5 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers – no mean feat for the world’s biggest hub for international traffic.