Dubai will later this month issue the first tender for the Dh120 billion expansion of its second airport in the south of the emirate.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of Dubai Airports and Emirates Group, said that the project is part of plans to increase annual handling capacity at Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC) to 120 million passengers.
“I think the first tender should be on the 28th of this month [May]. This is for the 120 million [expansion],” Sheikh Ahmed told reporters at the Airport Show in Dubai.
He did not disclose the details of the project to be awarded.
Work is underway on an expansion of the airport’s annual capacity to 26 million passengers, a “precursor” to the larger project with Al Jaber Engineering & Contracting (ALEC) awarded in March, a deal to expand the passenger terminal building.
Al Maktoum International is capable of handling more than 5 million passengers a year and its capacity will gradually be expanded to 220 million a year by the middle of the next decade.
The rapid growth of Dubai as an international hub for air travel has put pressure on the city’s main airport, Dubai International. Al Maktoum is designed to relieve that pressure and ultimately become the world’s biggest airport.
Last month, Dubai International was ranked the third-busiest airport in the world with 78 million passengers handled last year, up from sixth in 2014 and leapfrogging London Heathrow, Chicago O’Hare and Haneda in Japan.
It also retained its position as the world’s No 1 airport for international passenger volumes for the second year running.
Analysts forecast that, at current the rate of growth, Dubai International will hit its full capacity of 90 million passengers a year by 2020, representing a potential constraint on the growth of Emirates.
Tim Clark, the airline’s president, said in June last year that the airline can double in size once it makes the move to Al Maktoum International within the next decade.
Mark Martin, the chief executive of Dubai’s Martin Consulting, said that business jets, charter operations and low-cost airlines have already shifted to Al Maktoum International.
“Gradually FlyDubai will also be increasing its schedules from the airport,” he said.
Mr Martin added: “Al Maktoum will take time to sustain growth on its merit and that will come as a result of Jebel Ali growing both industrially as well as in catchment.”
Emirates is expected today to report results for its previous financial year. “I am optimistic,” said Sheikh Ahmed, the airline’s chairman, yesterday when asked about the financial results.
Last month, he said that Emirates would fly 55 million passengers this year, up from about 50 million a year ago. Emirates’ profit attributable to the owner rose by 40 per cent year-on-year in the 2014-15 financial year to Dh4.55bn, on the back of the drop in oil prices.
Emirates said that it will introduce a third daily service between Dubai and Cape Town from July 4. The new service will supplement the two current daily flights between the cities to meet growing demand, and offer travellers more convenience and choice.