He may run the world’s busiest airport for international flights, but Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths does not believe constructing ever-larger hubs is the solution to the overcapacity problem faced by many cities.
Instead, he says, disruptive ground-transport technology – such as driverless cars with sleeping facilities or better public transport networks – could make better use of existing facilities by allowing passengers to travel more easily and comfortably to under-served airports further from their home.
“The need to build larger and larger airports could be eliminated in markets where there is a lot of latent capacity in airport infrastructure,” he said, addressing an Aviation Club luncheon in London on 19 September.
Listing problems faced by passengers travelling to large airports from road congestion and expensive parking to “huge, intimidating security areas”, he added: “An airport’s success is determined by the ease of access for those in the catchment area it serves.”
However, Griffiths, who previously ran London Gatwick, had a jibe at the UK prime minister’s opposition to the expansion of Heathrow. Referring to Boris Johnson’s earlier support, as London mayor, for a new hub in the Thames Estuary, Griffiths says: “You can’t say if you build in one place it is okay, but if you build it somewhere else it is not.”
He adds: “If the question is whether we need more capacity in the London system, the answer is yes.”