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Dubai is optimistic about building the largest airport in the world: “We will completely change the airport model” |  outside

Dubai is optimistic about building the largest airport in the world: “We will completely change the airport model” | outside

Although plans have been on the table for some time, Dubai remains optimistic about building the world's largest airport. This should be able to handle approximately 160 million passengers annually. Moreover, it should become a huge global “aviation hub”. Dubai wants to put itself on the map more.

In October 2013, the first commercial passenger flight touched down on the runways of Al Maktoum International Airport, also known as Dubai World Central (DWC). This was the beginning of what would become the largest and busiest airport in the world.

The airport, which is about 30 kilometers from central Dubai, aims to develop into a future mega hub. In this way, Dubai wants to crystallize the idea that the emirate is a “huge center” for the global economy.

The new passenger terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport © Getty Images

Dubai Airports, the airport authority that runs Dubai International Airport (DXB) and this new airport, promises that when completed the airport will be able to handle more than 160 million passengers a year and 12 million tons of cargo. Somewhat optimistic: The world's largest airport right now, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, will handle about 63 million fewer passengers in 2022.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, told Agence France-Presse that when Dubai International Airport reaches its maximum capacity, a completely new airport will be needed. Moreover, he expects this scenario to occur sometime in the 2030s.


Griffiths told the American magazine “Business Traveler” that the expansion plan should be implemented between 2030 and 2050. The airport should ultimately form the center of a much larger plan called “Dubai South”. This is an economic zone, made up of different areas, each with a specific industrial purpose. It is a kind of economic city – which also includes residential and commercial areas – in a 145-square-kilometre desert just south of Dubai.

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Dubai South - residential area
Dubai South – residential area © Getty Images

The airport will form the center of this “air city”. The Mohammed bin Rashid Aviation and Space Center will house Dubai's rapidly growing industrial ecosystem, as well as the Emirates Engineering Centre.

A surge in passengers will only occur when local airline giant Emirates and smaller partner Flydubai move to the new airport from Dubai International – but it is not yet known when that will happen.

We will completely change the business model of airports, make them more intimate and get rid of all the old processes

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports

Change the system

“We are not planning an airport with terminals. We will completely change the business model for airports, make them more intimate and get rid of all the legacy processes that we have had to subject our customers to for a very long time. We have not yet seen any concrete plans.

Moreover, the region's national airlines are trying to claim their global share and put their capitals on the map. They also want to focus more on the tourism sector. New airports must support these efforts.

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