Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum approved the project to expand the Gulf state’s second airport, allowing the airline to move to the facility by the mid-2020s.
Emirates already has the world’s biggest fleet of long-range passenger aircraft, and Dubai international airport, currently Dubai’s main hub, is poised to overtake Heathrow as the largest by number of international passengers.
Dubai Airports, operator of Al Maktoum International, Dubai’s second airport, said the facility should become the biggest hub in the world.
It welcomed the city state ruler’s endorsement of the plan to dramatically expand the facility – located in an area known as Dubai World Central – so it can handle up to 200 million passengers a year.
“The further development of DWC will be a vital step towards providing the necessary facilities to accommodate passenger and cargo growth in the decades ahead and pave the way for Emirates to relocate their intercontinental hub operations to DWC by the mid-2020s,” said Dubai Airports.
The $32 billion DWC project broadly reaffirms a previous plan for a five-runway hub that was unveiled by Dubai before the global financial crisis, the Financial Times reported.
The airport opened to cargo carriers in 2010 and its small passenger terminal, which only has capacity to deal with 5 million passengers year, started operations in 2013.
The first phase of the airport’s expansion – to be completed over six to eight years – includes two satellite buildings capable of handling 120 million passengers each year.
The facility would also have the ability to accommodate 100 Airbus A380 aircraft – the world’s largest passenger jet.
Development at Al Maktoum International then slowed as Dubai had to deal with a recession in 2009 and restructure parts of its $120bn debt pile.
Work to expand the airport is expected to start soon, and the hub’s capacity could potentially be raised to 240 million passengers a year at some point in the future.
Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths said Flydubai, Dubai’s fast-growing low-cost carrier, may also have its home at Al Maktoum International.
Dubai International, which last year handled more than 66 million passengers, is undergoing work to reach a maximum capacity of 100 million passengers a year by 2020 – partly to accommodate Emirates’ expansion.
Sourced from Travel Weekly