Dubai to invest $82bn in aviation sector

A total of $82 billion will be invested in the emirate’s aviation sector as part of Dubai Government’s strategic plan 2015, which envisages for Dubai the role of the world’s aviation and logistics hub, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), told a press conference at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget. Sheikh Ahmed said that these investments will see the expansion of Dubai’s existing airport to almost triple its passenger capacity and double its cargo capacity; the construction of what will eventually be the world’s biggest airport, and the expansion of Emirate’s fleet of now 100 plus aircraft to over 180.

‘With Dubai emerging as the regional trade, business and tourism centre, DIA’s role and scope of operations have acquired new significance. While Dubai currently handles in the vicinity of 30 million passengers annually, up to 60 million passengers, including 15 million tourists are expected by 2010,’ Sheikh Ahmed noted.

‘Considering that investments in tourism, hospitality, leisure and entertainment projects under construction in Dubai exceed US$365 billion, the number of visitors to Dubai will rise dramatically over the next few years. Our multi-billion investments in the aviation sector are in line with this projected growth,’ Sheikh Ahmed said.

Owing to this rapid development, Dubai will be a major market and centre for global aviation and aerospace sectors in the coming years, Sheikh Ahmed remarked.

In this regard, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) has made substantial progress in its ambitions to become a global player in aerospace since its inception last year. After putting in place a world class management team led by CEO Bob Johnson, it has made some major acquisitions and established important strategic partnerships. DAE announced on June 18, a strategic partnership for long term collaboration with Boeing, one of the world’s leading commercial aircraft manufacturers.


One of DAE’s key initiatives is to build a leading global MRO capability (maintenance, repair and overhaul). The Company’s proposed acquisition of Landmark Aviation and Standard Aero is currently being reviewed by the U.S. regulatory authorities. In September 2006, DAE acquired a stake in the Swiss-based aviation technical services provider SR Technics.

‘On the other hand, the growth and success of Dubai Air Show in attracting some of the biggest names is one indication of a promising future for these sectors in Dubai,’ Sheikh Ahmed noted.

Dubai’s aviation industry standing is also underlined by the fact that the emirate now hosts three main-line international aerospace events all organised by Fairs & Exhibitions (F&E). The Dubai Airshow, which in November celebrates its 10th anniversary, is now the world’s third largest aerospace exhibition.

The emirate also hosts the world’s third largest business aviation event - Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) which earlier this year closed with a US$907 million on-site order book. MEBA, which is organised on behalf of the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), will next be held at Airport Expo Dubai from November 23-25, 2008.

And the latest aviation event to emerge from Dubai is Aircraft Interiors Middle East (AIME) - a B2B exhibition which will be held at Airport Expo Dubai in June next year.

Dubai International Airport and Expansion

A total of 28.8 million passengers passed through Dubai International in 2006, up 16.2% over 2005. This year looks more promising with passenger throughput at the DIA having crossed the 8 million mark in the first quarter. The annual figure for 2007 is estimated to be over 33 million.

Growing at an average of over 15 per cent per year since 2002, Dubai International has jumped from the 30th position on the list of world’s busiest five years ago to among the top 10 in 2007. To cope with this rapid growth, DIA is undergoing a massive expansion.

Sheikh Ahmed said that the US $4.5 billion Dubai International Airport Expansion Programme, which involves the construction of Terminal 3, Concourse 2 and 3 - meant exclusively for Emirates airlines, will enable the facility to handle up to 70 million passengers per year upon completion in 2009.

‘Concourse 2 will be completed by mid 2008, while Concourse 3 - dedicated for the A380 super-jumbo, is expected to be operational in 2009, making Dubai International Airport the first airport in the world to have a dedicated A380 terminal,’ Sheikh Ahmed said.

The expansion project also involves the construction of a mega cargo terminal with 1.4 million tonnes annual capacity, taking the total annual capacity of Dubai Cargo Village to 2.8 million tonnes. The mega cargo terminal will be operational by the end of 2007, Sheikh Ahmed revealed. DCV is currently ranked 11th worldwide in terms of cargo movement, and is the busiest in the region.

JXB - The world’s biggest airport

The world’s biggest airport is already under construction at Dubai World Central, a US$33 billion project considered to be Dubai’s most significant to date.

Located 40 kilometres from the existing Dubai International Airport (DIA), the US$ 10 billion international Airport (JXB) will have at least six parallel runways and as many concourses capable of handling 120 to 150 million passengers and more than 12 million tonnes of cargo per year upon completion.

‘The first of the six runways will be completed by October 2007, enabling freighter operations to begin in 2008. The airport will be linked to the existing Dubai International via an express light rail system and dedicated road network. A customs-bonded road and rail corridor between the two airports will enable fast cargo and passenger movement,’ Sheikh Ahmed said.

Sheikh Ahmed revealed that JXB will have two luxurious passenger terminals - the first dedicated to Emirates airlines, the second catering to other regional and international carriers. ‘A third, highly functional passenger terminal is earmarked for low cost carriers. Dedicated facilities are also earmarked for executive jet operators,’ he said.

The airport will also have house the Executive Jet Centre - one of the biggest in the world, and will function as a one-stop centre for business jet operations, including leasing and chartering of business jets, ground handling, and VIP passenger handling. ‘Designed to initially handle in excess of 100,000 aircraft movements a year, the EFC is due for completion in 2008,’ Sheikh Ahmed said.

Twice the size of Hong Kong Island, the mammoth project is designed to support Dubai’s aviation, tourism, commercial and logistics requirements until 2050 and beyond.