(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Dubai International airport is expected to become the third busiest international airport by 2020 as its operator is spending a huge amount of money for expansion on the ground and in the air.
At the moment, London's Heathrow is ranked third busiest international airport and Dubai is seen to overtake it within a decade. Both airports have allocated billions of dollars for expansion. Heathrow expects a 90 million passenger capacity by 2020, while Dubai International is working to achieve 98 million passengers by 2020.
"Dubai International, unfortunately, will probably overtake us as the third busiest international airport at some point of time in this decade," Simon Baugh, director of media relations at BAA Airports, told Khaleej Times.
Baugh said Dubai hopes to handle 100 million passengers by 2020 and Heathrow 90 million passengers. The latter recorded 70 million passengers last year while Dubai International reported 51 million passengers in 2011. There are 90 airlines operating out of Heathrow and servinga total of 180 destinations. On the other hand, Dubai has more than 150 airlines and serves over 200 destinations. In terms of aircraft movements, Heathrow claimed 480,000 a year while Dubai reported 326,317 in 2011. Dubai expects 560,000 movements by 2020.
Heathrow is working on 99.3 per cent of total capacity and there is no more space for any more flights as the UK government does not allow night flights, according to Baugh. He said Dubai has the advantage of night flights, and Heathrow does not allow flights from 11:30pm to 6:00am.
"There is room to growth only by putting more passengers on bigger plane as we cannot have more flights. We have 140 passengers per aircraft and we need to have 170-180 passengers to get 90 million passengers target," he said. Dubai International reported 184 average passengers' numbers per aircraft movements in 2011. Baugh mentioned that the company is spending around 1 billion a year for improving airport facilities.
In order to accommodate the anticipated growth in 2012 and beyond, Dubai Airports will invest 7.8 billion in airport expansion to boost the current capacity from 60 million passengers per year to 90 million passengers by 2018. The next significant step in those expansion plans will be the completion of Concourse 3, the world's largest dedicated A380 facility, scheduled by the end of 2012.