By Jethu Abraham
Middle Eastern airports recorded a +8.6 per cent increase in visitor traffic numbers in Q1 2014, reveals a May 2014 Airports Council International report.
Much of the region’s growth has been credited to Dubai International Airport, which serves more than 18 million passengers and boasts a robust growth of +11.4 per cent in comparison with last year. This makes Dubai International Airport the busiest in terms of international passenger traffic.
“The growth in passenger and freight traffic supports our continuous investment in expanding and improving our facilities. We not only want to increase our capacity to accommodate more passengers, but continually refine the services we offer our customers,” says Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.
The partially opened Al Maktoum International Airport is already proving an attraction that can’t be ignored. With 64 remote aircraft stands, it has a capacity of serving seven million passengers per year. Upon completion, the airport, dubbed ‘the world’s first purpose-built aerotropolis’, is touted to become the world’s largest airport, with five runways and an ultimate capacity for 160 million passengers.
Although the Middle East is turning out to be the most competitive region for global air travel, Abu Dhabi has maintained its position in the arena with a notable passenger traffic record and expansion projects.
Reporting a 15.1 per cent increase in passenger traffic in Q1 2014, Abu Dhabi International Airport has set a record quarterly performance, having received more than 4.5 million passengers.
“It is clear that businesses and tourists increasingly see Abu Dhabi as both a destination of choice and a logical transit point on longer journeys. This, in turn, is further evidence of the airport’s rapidly growing status as a major global transportation hub,” says Ahmad Al Haddabi, COO at Abu Dhabi Airports.
And this seems like no tall claim. The proposed Midfield Terminal Complex, being constructed to handle increasing passenger traffic, is expected to handle 30-plus million visitors in the next few years.
On April 30, when Qatar’s highly anticipated and much delayed Hamad International Airport finally opened doors, it signalled what seemed to be the end of a major problem facing the country. The new airport, which can handle 30 million annual passengers, aims to ease congestion at Doha International Airport.
Abdul Aziz Al Mass, senior manager of public relations and communications at Hamad International Airport, says: “The new airport will exceed expectations and redefine passengers’ experiences, whether they are arriving, departing or travelling onwards.”
Once completed, the airport, which would then be two thirds the size of Doha city, is expected to handle 50 million passengers annually.
With a state-of-the-art passenger terminal complex that spreads over 670,000 square metres, with 46 contact gates and 94 boarding bridges, the new King Abdul Aziz International Airport expansion project, based in Jeddah and scheduled to be completed later this year, is all set to impress. To this, three new terminal buildings, a high-speed rail link and a capacity for 80 million passengers a year, are among the proposed targets.
Close on its heels is the $800 million expansion of Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport, which is expected to handle 50 million passengers annually. It is estimated that once it’s completed, the combined capacity would reach 450 million. Although all projects are rooted in dealing with growing passenger traffic, the increasing pressure to build the most iconic airport has hardly gone unnoticed.
Sunday, June 8- 2014 @ 10:02 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.