CEO’s Letter

Paul Griffiths

CEO, Dubai Airports

The year started and ended on high notes. In January we confirmed our status as the world's new number one airport for international passenger traffic (70.4 million), overtaking London Heathrow, and ended by consolidating that position with a record 78 million passengers, with an average monthly passenger total of 6.5 million.

Our second airport, Dubai World Central (DWC), also enjoyed its share of the limelight in 2015. Barely five years after it was opened, DWC ascended into the list of the world’s top 20 international hubs by cargo volumes with 888,714 tonnes in 2015.

In terms of passenger traffic, the airport received a boost in October when flydubai launched scheduled operations there, contributing to an annual traffic total of 463,236 passengers. Currently DWC is served by five passenger airlines and 30 cargo airlines flying to more than 40 destinations.

Additionally, in April, given projections for accelerating growth due to spill-over from DXB and flydubai’s transfer of additional operations, we announced our intention to expand DWC’s annual capacity from 5 million passengers per year to 26 million passengers by 2018. Work on the project has commenced and is expected to be completed by the end 2017, concluding with opening operational trials before it opens for passengers. This project is a precursor to the US$ 32 billion project at DWC which will make it the world’s largest airport, with an annual capacity of 240 million passengers and 16 million tonnes of freight.

While we welcome and celebrate all of our growth milestones, our goal is to also make our airports number one for customer experience. Accordingly, we are constantly evolving our product and service offerings. DXB witnessed plenty of progress on both of these fronts during the year.

The highlight of 2015 was the completion of construction of the $1.2 billion Concourse D – the final element of the US$7.8 billion Strategic Plan 2020 programme. Following rigorous testing, including a public trial involving 2,000 residents of Dubai, the facility opened on February 24, 2016. The facility is now fully operational and is home to some 60 airlines serving 94 destinations with 350 flights per day. Dubai Airports continued its legacy for delivering timely capacity. As the final major element of our SP2020 plan, Concourse D boosts the airport’s capacity to 90 million in time to accommodate the 85 million passengers projected to visit DXB in 2016. The new facility has also elevated passenger experience at DXB, with open boarding gates allowing them more time and freedom to enjoy the great variety of opportunities for shopping, food and relaxation.

We also delighted our little travellers by opening a special Kid Zone complete with creative play equipment, television screens featuring children’s programming, and family area in Concourse B. A large proportion of the refurbishment and modernisation of Terminal 1, which serves the new concourse, was also completed during 2015.

2015 was also a year of increased passenger engagement as we claimed the title of the most ‘liked’ airport on Facebook with 1.5 million fans. We also launched a unique initiative called musicDXB to entertain and engage a multi-cultural and cosmopolitan audience of nearly seven million music lovers that pass through DXB every month. The programme was launched in November with Katy Perry wowing fans at the Dubai Airshow Gala Dinner, and UK swing kings Jack Pack performing to an enchanted crowd of travellers at the airport. Since the launch, our musicDXB stage has hosted nearly a dozen local and international artists.

Our ongoing efforts to engage with our customers and enhance their experience at the airport have been recognised widely. DXB won numerous awards in 2015, including at the Condé Nast Traveller Awards, Frontier Awards, the World Travel Awards and the Global Routes forum among others.

The year ahead will present similar opportunities as we continue to grow capacity, delight our customers with new products and services and build on our contributions to the economic and social wellbeing of Dubai.