Dubai eyes 100 mln air passengers by 2020

Dubai Airports said Tuesday it expected to more-than-double its passenger traffic to 98.5 million in a decade, but travellers will have to wait for another year to go through its second airport.

Dubai International, the Middle East's busiest airport, should become the world busiest airport for international passenger traffic in 2015, when passenger handling exceeds 75 million, the company said.

International passenger traffic through Dubai International and the new Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International will grow at an average 7.2 percent annually, chief executive officer Paul Griffiths said.

Cargo volumes will grow by 6.7 percent annually, he told reporters during the Arabian Travel Market.

By 2020, the number of passengers will reach 98.5 million, compared to 47.2 million last year, and cargo will top 4.1 million tonnes, he added.

He said DWC-Al Maktoum International, which began cargo operations last year, will commence passenger services in 2012, signalling another delay of almost a year.

It is touted as becoming the world's largest when completed and has the capacity for 160 million passengers annually.

"We have joined the elite club of two-airports cities," Griffiths told reporters. He said 19 cargo carriers now use the new facility, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of the original airport, and on the doorsteps of Dubai's Jebel Ali port and free zone - the Middle East's busiest container port.

Griffiths said Dubai airport ranked the world's fourth in terms of international passenger traffic, not including domestic traffic, in the past 12 months.

It was behind London's Heathrow which handled 61.08 million international passengers, Charles de Gaulle in Paris, with 53.28 million and Hong Kong, with 50.23 million.

"Based on the current pace of growth we are seeing in other large international airports, Dubai International should become the busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic as early as 2015 when passenger numbers are projected to exceed 75 million," he said.

Dubai has established itself over the past few years as a travel hub capturing a sizable traffic between Asia, Australasia and the rest of the world.

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