The decision to expand Dubai International Airport and delay the introduction of the all-new DWC facility at Jebel Ali has given far more time to develop the plan for what will eventually be the world's biggest airport, says Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths.

The new airport launched cargo operations in June 2010, as part of the first phase of the project in which five runways will be operated handling 160 million passengers (of which 100 million will be transfer) and 12 million tonnes of cargo. "We think capacity will be completed by about 2030," says Griffiths.

The original development plan envisaged the launch of passenger operations by now, but the schedule was slowed in the wake of the global recession and Dubai's downturn. Griffiths now foresees the first passenger flights beginning at DWC within two years. "We've got a passenger building, but we're not going to rush to open it because the passenger business is far more sensitive to the need to transfer to other services," he says.

The decision to delay DWC and expand Dubai International will enable the current airport to provide a strong cashflow to finance the creation of the new one, says Griffiths. "We're going to concentrate on developing our non-aeronautical revenue, which currently accounts for 83% of the total," he adds.

Phase 1 of DWC's development will be largely driven by organic growth, taking passenger numbers to seven million through traffic spill from the existing airport and general aviation transfers. "The real push will come at the turn of the decade when we have another couple of runways and the first terminals up and running," says Griffiths.

Emirates is notionally scheduled to move hubs around 2025, by which time it is projected to be handling roughly 80 million passengers. This will take DWC's capacity to about 87 million. "The remaining 73 million to take us to the full 160 million will be developed over the next five to 10 years [from 2025] to enable organic growth of existing operators and relocation of the remaining airlines from Dubai International," says Griffiths.

Source: Airline Business