Dubai approves $32bn second airport expansion plan

Emirate’s Al Maktoum International to become largest airport in world

Al Maktoum International Airport will have a capacity of 200mn passengers per year when it is complete.
Al Maktoum International Airport will have a capacity of 200mn passengers per year when it is complete.

Dubai’s ruler has approved plans to spend $32bn (AED117.5bn) on expanding Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC) to make it the world’s largest airport, Dubai Airports has announced.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, viewed the plans earlier this month and decided to sanction the development which should see the airport’s capacity rise to more than 200mn passengers a year when it is complete.

Al Maktoum International Airport at DWC will be developed in two phases. Phase one will include two satellite buildings which will jointly be able to handle around 120mn passengers annually and accommodate up to 100 A380 superjumbos at any given time.

This first phase will take between six and eight years to complete and the project will cover an area of 56km².

Phase two will then see the airport’s capacity increased to 200mn passengers a year, a quarter more than the previously planned ultimate capacity of 160mn.

The announcement comes as passenger traffic continues to grow at Dubai International Airport and is expected to reach almost 100mn by the end of 2020.

“Our future lies at DWC. The announcement of this AED120bn development of DWC is both timely and a strong endorsement of Dubai’s aviation industry. With limited options for further growth at Dubai International, we are taking that next step to securing our future by building a brand new airport that will not only create the capacity we will need in the coming decades but also provide state of the art facilities that revolutionise the airport experience on an unprecedented scale,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

Griffiths added that the aviation sector was a vital part of Dubai’s economic growth and was expected to support more than 322,000 jobs and contribute 28% of the Emirate’s gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of the decade.

Al Maktoum International Airport began accepting passengers in October last year and currently has a capacity of about 5mn people per year. It opened some four years later than originally planned after a financial crisis forced Dubai to revise some of its mega-projects.

Dubai officials have not said how they will fund the new expansion plans, Reuters reported.

Big international carriers, including Emirates, have so far not indicated any plans to move to Al Maktoum, with just a handful of airlines currently operating out of the facility. Authorities have not said what will happen to Dubai International if the big airlines do leave it.

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