Dubai double act looks beyond Expo 2020

Bernie Baldwin

The force behind Dubai Airports’ official slogan, ‘2020: towards the next 50’.

Dubai has two major airports, Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central–Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC). DXB offers 255 destinations and last year served 88 million passengers and 3.5 million tonnes of cargo.

“We’re the No 1 for international traffic at DXB; it may surprise some to learn that we have a 50:50 split between O&D and transit traffic,” Jochen Schnadt, vice-president, aviation business management, remarks. “However, Dubai welcomed 16 million visitors in 2019, making it the fourth most visited city in the world. Many Fortune 500 companies have set up their headquarters in Dubai. But there are also many start-ups, of which about one-third are international.

“Most people in Dubai live within 60 minutes of the airport. There is strong VFR traffic,” the VP observes. “It’s a split of 75% leisure/VFR vs 25% business.”

While DXB is almost full, DWC has space to grow. Its passenger terminal can handle 26 million passengers a year. Still in the early stages of traffic development, in 2019 DWC processed just over 1.6 million passengers. This 81.5% increase compared with 2018 was heavily influenced by the relocation of operations by a number of international carriers during the 45-day planned closure of DXB’s southern runway during April-May 2019.

“So far the airlines at DWC have mainly been operating point-to-point services,” Schnadt comments. “But the key is to look at the pair as a system.” Schnadt is looking forward to Expo2020: “The ‘World’s Greatest Show’ is all about opportunity, mobility and sustainability,” he notes. “There will be more than 190 ‘country pavilions’ and 60 live events, shows and parades a day. Expo falls into the European winter, so visitors will be able to have some warmth, but the heat is lower than in other months.”

Further ahead, Schnadt says that DWC will ultimately be the new Dubai airport. “We need to use its unconstrained opportunities, because DXB is shoehorned in near the downtown,” he concludes.

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