We ended 2012 with record traffic numbers. Passenger numbers surged 13.2 per cent to a record 57.6 million, putting Dubai International ahead of both Hong Kong International and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle as the second busiest airport for international passengers. We now have London’s Heathrow and the No 1 spot firmly in our sights.
The traffic growth helped boost our revenue figures by 10 per cent, with a strong showing in both aeronautical and non-aeronautical activities.
We completed Concourse A, the world’s first purpose-built A380 facility, opening the first four gates on January 2, 2013, and all 20 gates by the end of the month. The opening was a timely expansion of our facilities that increased our capacity from 60 million to 75 million and permits the unfettered growth of Emirates airline and our other 140 client carriers.
Our expansion plan, SP2020, also continued to gather pace with the start of construction of Concourse D, the new home of the more than 100 airlines that serve Dubai International; the expansion of Terminal 2 as well as the development of new cargo facilities. These are vital projects that will enable our airport to accommodate the 98 million passengers we expect by the end of the decade.
At the same time we continued to focus on improving our commercial offerings. We want to offer our customers a wider choice of services and products and improve the overall passenger experience. The revenue from these services is also vital in funding our expansion over the next few years.
We introduced a great line-up of 16 international and local F&B outlets in Concourse A. We also added new retail outlets across the airport, including a new Boots pharmacy in Concourse B. This helped drive up non-aeronautical revenue by eight per cent in 2012.
As part of this improved passenger offering we introduced ways in which to lift our service standards to new heights. In 2012 we invested in new wayfinding systems and technologies to help our passengers find their way through our ever-expanding airport. These included the replacement of traditional information desks with Information Zones, where passengers can use new touchscreens to navigate their way through the airport.
The element that underpins everything we do at Dubai Airports is safety and security, and over the past 12 months we continued to proactively find ways to improve the safety of our passengers, employees and stakeholders. In 2010 Dubai Airports introduced the ‘Safe Unsafe Acts Audit’ programme to identify and develop safe practices within airport operations, and in 2012, more than 10,800 audits were conducted throughout the airport premises.
However, the successes of the past year have brought with them a new set of challenges. Given the record growth, there is a clear need to press on with our expansion programme in 2013 and meet all major milestones in that $7.8 billion plan. This means not only the construction of new terminals on the ground but creating capacity in the air to accommodate the growing number of aircraft.
And as we grow, we must ensure that each and every passenger is offered the same seamless journey from the kerb to the gate.
In 2013 we will focus on making meaningful, long-term improvements to our passenger proposition. This means implementing revolutionary processes in dealing with travel formalities, better amenities and world-class F&B or retails outlets. Some of these will be implemented in the short term while others will take longer to come to fruition.
There is little time to pause and look back on our successes in 2012. We need to press on, making certain our successes continue to outpace our challenges.
CEO, Dubai Airports