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ME airports expanding in fast-forward mode

Middle East airports expanding in a fast-forward mode to handle zooming passenger numbers

Dubai to host the world’s largest airport industry show in May

Ahmed bin Saeed: “The exhibition is the best to source cutting-edge technologies and innovative products for better operations.”

Up to US$2. 7 billion investments for DXB expansion

Middle East airports to handle 1.1 billion passengers by 2040

US$151 billion is required for ME airport capacity expansion

Global airport construction market to reach US$1.8 trillion by 2030

ME to be the world’s fastest-growing aviation market by 2033

The region has 110 commercial airports and 69 operating carriers

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, February 20, 2024: With the civil aviation industry almost fully recovered after the steepest fall in passenger numbers due to the 21st century’s second pandemic, airports across the world are bracing themselves to handle a big boom in air travel until 2030 by going in for expansions and redevelopments.

The Middle East Aviation Market, valued at US$60 billion in 2023, is predicted to rise substantially until 2030. Air connectivity in the Middle East had seen a 26 percent-plus growth in 2022 as compared with 2019.

The Middle East airports are set to handle 1.1 billion passengers by 2040, more than double the 2019 figure of 405 million passengers. They will be required to invest around US$151 billion in capacity expansion. The region, with over 110 airports, is among the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world.

Airport developers, officials, and suppliers from across the world will come to Dubai in mid-May 2024 to participate in the world’s largest annual event dedicated to the global airports industry. The 23rd edition of the three-day B2B event at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), the Middle East’s leading exhibition and convention venue, will have more than 150 exhibitors from more than 20 countries and 7,500 visitors from over 30 countries attending. The Airport Show will have co-located events – ATC Forum, Airport Security Middle East, and the 11th edition of the Global Airport Leaders Forum (GALF).

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, and Patron of Airport Show said: “The business event will provide the industry professionals from Middle East, South Asia, and Africa region, the opportunity to see innovations in airport sustainability, digitalization, and urban air mobility.”

He added: “Airport Show will remain the best venue to select and source the cutting-edge technologies and newest innovative products to better the airport operations.”

Organized by RX, part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools that organizes about 400 events in 22 countries across 42 industry sectors, the show is supported by prominent players in the aviation industry, including the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), Dubai Airports, Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP), and dnata.

Remarked May Ismail, Event Manager at RX: “The airport industry will be back to full business when we meet in 2024. The pace of growth and expansion that was halted is back at a phenomenal rate. The projects that took off again clearly suggest there is no end to expansion and growth. What had been put on the back burner is now in the front.”

According to a CAPA report, 425 major construction projects were on at existing airports worldwide, with US$450 billion in investments. There were 225 new airport projects and more than 70 percent of the investment was in Asia Pacific. There were 1074 airport investors, of which 258 were airport operators, groups or consortiums. About 68 percent of all projects were based on terminals, either expansions or new developments. A report has disclosed that the global airport construction market grew to US$1.14 trillion in 2023, and would reach US$1.8 trillion by 2030.

Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest airport for international travelers continuously for nine years, is also building up the capacity and facilities to make the hub more impressive. Now serving 250 destinations in 104 countries through 95 airlines, DXB has mega expansion plans that will entail investments of up to US$2. 7 billion. The enhancements in capacity and service levels over the coming 10 years have been necessitated as its home base carriers ordered another 120 aircraft – 90 Boeing-777s for Emirates and 30 Boeing-787s for flydubai.

Sharjah, home to the Arabian Gulf’s first airport, has started work on an AED1.2 billion (US$327 million) terminal expansion that will increase the airport’s capacity to 20 million passengers a year. The expansion project will separate the arrivals from departures areas and enhance its systems and amenities. It is the largest phase of expansion work being undertaken at a total cost of AED2.4 billion and is expected to be completed in 2027. Improvements will include additional self-check-in kiosks, electronic boarding gates, a spacious waiting zone, dining facilities, and a transit passenger hotel. Sharjah Airport, home of the MENA region’s largest LCC Air Arabia, added six new passenger destinations and three air cargo routes in 2023. The airport handled about 13.1 million passengers in 2022 and will be able to handle up to 25 million passengers by 2026.

A plan is underway to transform King Abdelaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Saudi Arabia into one of the world’s largest airports with an SR115 billion expansion plan that will increase its capacity to 114 million passengers a year. The largest components of the plan cover the design and expansion of Terminal 1 and the construction of a new passenger terminal to be called Terminal 2. The expected completion date for the expansion project is 2031.

A new Hajj and Umrah terminal at the airport in Jeddah will handle 15 million passengers a year and is expected to be completed by 2025. The airport aims to accommodate up to 120 million passengers by 2030 and 185 million by 2050. For cargo, the goal is to process 3.5 million tons a year.

Another major airport is planned for Neom, close to the Tabuk end of the 170-kilometre-long Line development. Neom International Airport’s first phase will have the capacity to handle 25 million passengers a year. A second phase could take the capacity up to 50 million passengers a year. There is an aspiration for the airport to become the largest in the world, with a capacity of 100 million passengers a year. Abha International Airport will undergo a makeover that will see its terminal grow from 113,000 square feet to 700,000 square feet.

The existing airport can handle 1.5 million passengers annually. The new one will be capable of handling 13 million by the time the first phase of the development is completed in 2028. The expansion will include the construction of passenger jetways, self-service facilities for passenger check-in and baggage handling, and high-capacity parking facilities. Saudi Arabia is building in

Riyadh one of the world’s largest airports which will have six parallel runways. The airport will help drive annual passenger traffic to 120 million by 2030 and 185 million by 2050.

Airports in Oman are expected to witness 40 million passengers by 2030. The Sultanate currently attracts 18 million passengers. The country currently can handle around 24 million passengers. Officials opened new airports in Muscat and Duqm in 2019 in addition to two new air cargo terminals. Musandam Airport is being constructed for US$250 million and is expected to be ready by Q4 2026. The work includes the construction of two runways and a passenger terminal with a capacity of 250,000 passengers per year.

Lebanon has on anvil plans to construct a US$122 million terminal at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport to be completed in four years. The new terminal will help it handle 3.5 million passengers annually when operations are planned to begin in 2027. The airport currently handles 8 million passengers a year, and the plans are to reach 20 million in 2030.

Bahrain is exploring plans to have a second airport by 2034. It has undergone expansion as part of the US$13 billion investment into its tourism industry. The new passenger terminal building at Bahrain International Airport doubled its capacity. The new greenfield airport will eventually replace the existing Bahrain International Airport (BIA) due to the inadequacy of its current infrastructure in meeting the kingdom’s growing airport needs.

Kuwait has plans to expand its airport terminal capacity from six million passengers per year to 20 million by 2030 and turn Kuwait International Airport into a major passenger and cargo hub. The new passenger terminal (T2) was one of the projects aimed at modernizing its infrastructure to serve Vision 2035. The US$4.36 billion Kuwait Airport’s Passenger Terminal-2 expansion will boost its annual passenger handling capacity to 13 million passengers per year by 2025.

Egypt is working at expanding and bettering aviation facilities keeping in view the plans to receive up to 30 million visitors by 2028. The UAE’s aviation is set to witness growth as the UAE Tourism Strategy aims to host 40 million visitors by 2031. The first phase of Navi Mumbai International Airport is expected to be completed by December 2024. By 2032, Navi Mumbai Airport would also have the capacity to handle 2.5 million tons of cargo. The US$3.8 billion Noida International Airport is set to open by September 2025.

Maldives is working to develop airports in its six islands as its new government works on a policy to have an airport within 30 minutes of every residential island. Its capital city, Male, will have a new terminal by 2025. China aims to construct 216 new airports by 2035 to meet the growing demands for air travel.

A report by Statista said Asia-Pacific had been the region with the highest number of airport infrastructure projects under construction, with over half of the new airport construction taking place in this region. It also had the lead for construction projects in existing airports. When considering the value of airport construction projects worldwide, Asia-Pacific was also at the top of the ranking.

“Airports will be core drivers of (aviation) industry-wide change, while themselves being transformed in the process,” remarked a study on the ‘Evolution of Airports – Travel Trends in The Next 30 Years’ published by Oliver Wyman, a global consultancy, Airports Council International (ACI) World, and the Sustainable Tourism Global Center (STGC).

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