Complex Made Simple

Aviation industry can contribute up to a third of Dubai’s GDP by 2020, says Sheikh Ahmed

With a new concourse expected to be built by early 2015, Dubai International Airport is on track to become world's busiest airport

Dubai’s booming aviation industry will become one of the major contributors to the economy in time for Expo 2020, the aviation chief has claimed.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Airports and Emirates Group, explains that the rapid expansions of Dubai’s two airports, as well as Emirates Airline’s surge, will redefine the industry as a key source of economic growth.

Having returned to full operations following the runway refurbishment programme at Dubai’s International Airport (DXB), Sheikh Ahmed is confident the airport will be able to accommodate 70 million passengers in 2014. Based on last year’s figures, this would make DXB the fourth busiest international airport behind London Heathrow, Beijing and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.

However, with the $7.8 billion development of a new concourse set to be opened by the first quarter of 2015, this expansion should take Dubai’s annual capacity to a record 100 million passengers.

What’s more, Dubai’s ‘second’ airport, Al Maktoum International, which will eventually hold a capacity of 160 million passengers, is currently progressing through phases, and given its location, it will be a key hub for visitors flocking to Dubai for the Expo 2020.

In line with these expansions, Sheikh Ahmed believes the aviation industry will contribute to 32 per cent of Dubai’s overall GDP. As such, it represents a strategy to diversify Dubai’s economy, which, despite the real estate crisis of 2009, is still dominated by the construction sector.

Nonetheless, while hoping to build two of the world’s busiest airports may reflect a booming aviation industry and indeed boost Dubai as a key transit destination, it will be up to the city and other sectors to ensure Dubai grows as a major global economic and tourist hub. In other words, building airport capacity to accommodate 260 million passengers a year is one thing, fulfilling this capacity will be an entirely different challenge.