Dubai Airports CEO Suggests Current Hub Could Become Obsolete

Skift Take

With a new $35 billion facility on the way, Paul Griffiths says the city doesn’t need two airports.

Dubai is no stranger to building things and tearing them down, and one day, its global airport could meet the same fate.

On Sunday, Dubai’s ruler announced a $35 billion expansion for DWC (Dubai World Central — Al Maktoum International Airport), with hopes of turning it into the world’s biggest airport within the next decade.

Once complete, DWC will have five runways, five terminals, and capacity for 260 million passengers. The scale of the new project could render the existing hub – Dubai International Airport (DXB) – obsolete.

Speaking on local radio, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said: “If you look at the size of the city, [the new airport] is actually closer for those living on Palm Jumeirah. We’ve got to look at journey time. Journey time will get lower and lower. All of the expansion in Dubai is to the south.”

“I really don’t think we need two airports. The proximity of the new airport will make it very clear, one airport, with the sort of capacity and proximity to the center of new Dubai, will be enough.”

The Importance of Air Travel to Dubai

DXB is one of the busiest airports in the world and the base for Emirates – a successful airline credited with helping put Dubai on the proverbial and literal map.

In 2023, Dubai International Airport received 86.9 million passengers. Its annual traffic in 2019 was 86.3 million. DXB expects to receive 88.8 million guests this year, close to its 2018 all-time high of 89.1 million passengers.

DXB doesn’t post its financials, but we know its Duty Free business had $2.16 billion in sales turnover last year.

Griffiths said “Dubai absolutely needs” the new airport as DXB will run out of space in the next decade.

He said: “Although we are doing incredibly well at DXB, with the two runways, we are limited on aircraft movements. We do need those additional movements as the average size of aircraft is going down. I’m just so relieved this has been announced.”

“The contribution to the economy [in Dubai] from aviation is enormous. With a new home, we will be able to generate greater levels of revenue both directly and indirectly from more people in the city. That will boost the coffers and help cover the cost of the airport.”

“It’ll be very challenging to move a hub in a short space of time, it’ll be a phased move.”

Watch Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports at Skift Global Forum East:

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