DubaiAirports Chief Executive Officer Paul Griffiths currently oversees operationsat Dubai International while at the same time coordinating the launch of DubaiWorld Central-Al Maktoum International (DWC), which is slated to be the world’slargest passenger and cargo hub. He sat down with Executive to discuss thecompany’s activities.
E Dubai International became thethird busiest airport in the world this year. The expectation is that it willbe the busiest by 2020, but could you reach the top spot before that date?
Basedon our growth projections, this is entirely possible. The busiest airport forinternational passenger traffic currently is London Heathrow with around 60million per annum, whereas we will reach 46 million this year and 52 million bythe end of 2011. As you know, recent proposals for a third runway have beenshot down, which significantly constrains Heathrow’s future capacity. Paris,Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Amsterdam also face capacity constraints, althoughthey are less severe and have slower growth rates. All told, we believe we canget to the top spot within the next several years.
E What challenges are you facing tohandle such exponential growth in passenger and freight traffic?
Theprovision of timely and efficient capacity, both in terms of infrastructure andairspace, is a top priority. We have aggressive plans in place to boostcapacity at Dubai International from the current 60 million passengers per yearto 90 million by 2018 and to complete the world’s largest airport at [DWC], bythe midpoint of the next decade for 160 million passengers. Our goal is tostreamline processes and implement technologies that allow us to do this asefficiently as possible.
E While Dubai International is thebase of carrier Emirates, what are you doing to attract more airlines?
Dubai’sopen skies policy combined with top-flight infrastructure provided atcompetitive rates has served us well to date. With 130 airlines offeringservices to 220 destinations on six continents, we already provide consumerswith a compelling range of options. That said, we are always looking to growthose numbers and do so primarily through direct and ongoing consultation withexisting and prospective client airlines.
E DWC began cargo operationsrecently. Did this have any affect on Dubai Airport’s freight operations? Ifnot, why is that the case?
Thetwo operations are complimentary. They provide attractive options to our clientairlines whose commercial and operational requirements often vary. To date we have19 cargo airlines signed up to operate at the new airport. We expect thatnumber to increase in the years ahead as slot availability for cargo freightersdiminishes and air freight volumes reach capacity limits at DubaiInternational.
E The Strategic Plan 2015 is forDubai to be the region’s aviation hub. What role will Dubai Airport play inthis plan, given the development of DWC? What will happen to DubaiInternational when DWC is fully operational?
Ithink it’s safe to say we are already the region’s aviation hub and haveestablished Dubai as a leading global aviation hub. The next step in thejourney is to fully develop Dubai International’s capacity and cement itsposition as the number one international hub by the end of the decade. DWC willtake us to the next level serving as the world’s largest airport with room for160 million passengers and 12 million tons of freight when it is completed atsome point in the mid-2020s. It is too early to say what will happen to DubaiInternational at that point.