The sky’s the limit

As trials at Dubai International Airport’s new multibillion-dollar Concourse D started in August, the facility inches closer to welcoming 100 international airlines, further cementing Dubai’s position as one of the world’s top travel hubs

In 2013, significant progress was made on Concourse D, which is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2015. The concourse will have a capacity of 18 million passengers a year, helping accommodate the rapid growth in traffic going through the emirate’s international airport, which is forecast to handle more than 100 million passengers annually by 2020.

At the current pace of passenger growth, Dubai International is on target to overtake London’s Heathrow as the world’s busiest international airport by 2015. It currently holds second place. Last year, 66,496,730 passengers travelled through the Dubai hub, up 15.3 percent compared to 2012. The emirate’s geographic location connecting east and west, world-class airport facilities and its flagship carrier Emirates’ young fleet, have enabled it to attract a growing number of international travellers.

Concourse D, which is designed around a central atrium, aims to offer a more efficient customer experience that shortens the passenger journey through its 28 gates. A new, elevated rail link will connect the concourse to Terminal 1, with trains supplied by Montreal-based manufacturer Bombardier.

“Dubai International currently has capacity for 75 million passengers per annum while the airport handled 66.4 million passengers in 2013. The opening of Concourse D will provide timely capacity to accommodate the ongoing growth, especially for the 100 airlines that currently use Terminal 1 and pave the way for refurbishment and inclusion of Concourse C as part of Terminal 3 (which is for the exclusive use of Emirates and Qantas Airways),” a Dubai Airports spokesperson said.

Dubai International Airport
Dubai Airports has allocated US$7.8bn for the expansion of Dubai International to accommodate for fast-growing passenger numbers

“With a designed capacity of 18 million passengers a year, Concourse D is vital in ensuring that Dubai International continues to accommodate the continued rapid growth in passenger traffic.”

Dubai International is already the world’s busiest hub for operations of the Airbus A380. Emirates airline, the world’s biggest operator of the double-decker aircraft, is based at Dubai International. Trailing behind Dubai is Singapore Changi, followed by London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt.

Emirates, the world’s largest airline by international traffic, took delivery of its 50th A380 aircraft in July this year, bringing its fleet of wide-body plans to 224 aircraft, the world’s largest fleet of A380s and also of Boeing 777s.

In November last year, Emirates ordered an additional 50 A380 aircraft, taking the airline’s total A380 order book to 96 aircraft. More recently, during the Farnborough Airshow held in July this year, the airline was the biggest newsmaker, finalizing an order for 150 Boeing 777Xs, valued at $56 billion at list prices. The order also includes purchase rights for an additional 50 airplanes that, if exercised, could bring the value to approximately $75 billion at list prices, according to Boeing.

Dubai International Airport’s expansion is in line with Emirates’ growth strategy, as the carrier continues to add to its fleet and number of destinations, snapping up market share from its European rivals. Dubai Airports has allocated $7.8 billion for the expansion of Dubai International to accommodate for fast-growing passenger numbers.