Complex Made Simple

Which GCC airport will unseat Atlanta International as the world’s busiest?

Dubai Airports (DA), the company managing both of Dubai’s airports, has high hopes for the Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai World Central (DWC). In fact, the Dubai Airports website expects the airport to become “the world’s largest global gateway with capacity for more than 160 million passengers per year.” They also expect that it “will serve as a multi-modal logistics hub for 12 million tonnes of freight.”

Yet, is this wishful thinking, or does Dubai Airports actually have a plan to make this happen?

Expansion plans fully underway

According to Air Transport World (ATW), the DWC has lengthened the three “arms” of its Y-shaped terminal (two landside and one airside), adding a “hammerhead” extension to the end of the airside pier to allow for unrestricted growth.

The expansion will be executed in two phases over the next six to eight years. The first phase is fully underway.

Approved in 2014, the AED120bn ($32.67bn) expansion project is expected to make the airport the world’s biggest, in terms of size and passenger capacity, DA’s site states.

The 711,569ft² passenger terminal at Al Maktoum Airport opened in October 2013. It was initially designed to host five million passengers a year, with a possible expansion to seven million, site Airport Techonology (AT) explains.

“The proposed expansion project will increase the terminal’s built-up area to approximately 1.57 million square feet, and add new facilities to the arrival and departure areas,” AT continues.

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DWC to absorb DXB traffic

Earlier this year, back in April, the airport announced that it will lift landing and parking fees usually incurred by airlines during a 45-day period next year. The 45 days coincide with the summer season of 2019, when Dubai International Airport’s (DXB) southern runway will undergo maintenance.

To alleviate the temporary loss of runway ground at DXB, while simultaneously encouraging carriers to switch to its own airport, DWC could see a surge in traffic next year, as the airport establishes itself as a mainstay of the Emirate.

Emirati media has been discussing the possibility of connecting DXB and DWC in the future, which would streamline many facets of the flight industry in the Emirate, as well as contribute towards Dubai Airports’ goal of making DWC the world’s largest.

It would be a significant accomplishment if their goal can be realized before Expo 2020. It would leave a lasting impression on the visiting international community.

According to DA’s site, “DWC opened the doors to its 5-7 million capacity passenger terminal passengers on October 27, 2013, while cargo operations were launched much earlier on June 27, 2010.”

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The world’s top 5 busiest airports

Back in June, Airports Council International (ACI) released its list of the world’s busiest airports. Dubai has been no stranger to the top tiers of this list in recent years, and the list could add another Dubai entry very soon.

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) took first place once more, with 103,902,992 passengers in 2017.

2. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) came second, with 95,786,442 passengers in 2017.

3. Dubai International Airport (DXB), has brought the Emirate to the forefront of the international stage. Soon, DWC could be joining it on this list. The airport saw 88,242,099 passengers in 2017.

4. Tokyo Haneda International Airport was unseated from its 3rdplace position by DXB. It saw 85,408,975 passengers in 2017.

5. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) came in fifth, with 84,557,968 passengers in 2017.

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