Bigger and Better

Dubai International Airport is undergoing enormous changes as air traffic levels hit record highs. With massive expansion plans including a new mega-airport, how can ground services company, Dnata cope?


Dubai is now a major player on the world stage. Its meteoric rise is evidenced by numerous eye-catching developments — construction projects in tourism, hospitality, leisure and entertainment exceed $365 billion USD — and a dramatic increase in aviation activity.

Compared to figures from the first half of 2006, 2007 traffic has increased 17.94 percent. Cargo movement has also jumped 11 percent, Dubai Cargo Village is now handling a total of 751,575 tons, while aircraft movement registered a total of 127,568 flights, representing a 9.5 percent increase.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Department of Civil Aviation and chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group described the results as “very satisfying.”

To cope with this dynamic surge in numbers, the aviation sector is undergoing a massive expansion program. A total of $82 billion USD will be invested as part of Dubai Government’s 2015 plan. This includes tripling passenger capacity and doubling cargo throughput at the current gateway, a new mega-airport and a considerable hike in Emirates’ fleet from the current 108 planes to 180.

“With Dubai emerging as the regional trade, business and tourism center, DIA’s role and scope of operations have acquired new significance,” says Sheikh Ahmed. “Dubai currently handles in the vicinity of 30 million to 60 million passengers annually, including 15 million tourists which are expected by 2010.”

Breathtaking scope
The $4.5 billion plan for Dubai International Airport includes the construction of Terminal 3 as well Concourses 2 and 3 — all for the exclusive use of Emirates. Scheduled completion is set for 2009, by which time the airport will be able to handle up to 70 million passengers.

Terminal 3 and Concourse 2 are online to be finished by mid-2008, while Concourse 3 — dedicated to the Airbus A380 super-jumbo — is expected to be operational in 2009.

A 1.4 million tonne mega cargo terminal is also part of the expansion project. This should open by the end of the year and take total capacity at Dubai Cargo Village to 2.8 million tons.

As if that isn’t enough, Dubai is also planning the world’s biggest airport city at Dubai World Central — approximately 40km from the existing facility.
The $33 billion USD project is breathtaking in scope. Along with the airport there will be residential, commercial, golf, aviation and logistics ‘cities’. The airport (JXB) itself will feature two main passenger terminals, the first dedicated to home carrier Emirates and the second for other international carriers. A third building for low-cost carriers will also be built. Overall capacity is in the 120-150 million range. Land has even been put aside for executive jet operations, which alone will handle some 100,000 aircraft movements.

There will be six parallel runways — the first of which will be ready shortly. This will enable cargo operations to begin there in relative tranquillity in 2008. Ultimately, JXB will have the capability to process 12 million tons annually.

The new airport will connect to DIA via an express light rail system and dedicated road network. “A customs-bonded road and rail corridor between the two airports will enable fast cargo and passenger movement,” notes Sheikh Ahmed.

The developments should take care of Dubai’s requirements until at least 2050, although growth rates are hardly following convention.

Coping with success
Such grandiose plans will keep the current sole provider of passenger and cargo services at DIA extremely busy. Dnata Airport Operations is wholly-owned by the Government of Dubai and is actively reviewing just about every aspect of its operation to cope with the phenomenal growth.

A spokesperson for the company reveals it has recently restructured into two separate business units, one to handle Emirates, the second to handle all other airlines. The mix of flights is roughly 50/50 at present but Emirates is growing at approximately 20 per cent per annum while other airline activity is up around 6 per cent.

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