Key Points:

  • Dubai International Airport (DXB) revises its 2023 passenger forecast from 83.6 million to 85 million, attributing the increase to travel numbers returning to pre-Covid levels.

  • DXB's CEO, Paul Griffiths, calls for immediate efforts to enhance the current airport's capacity to sustain growth over the next 10 to 15 years, and a "real push" to expand Al Maktoum International, the city's second airport.

  • The robust performance of the travel sector in Dubai, marked by record tourism and hotel rates, fuels speculation about the possibility of an initial public offering (IPO).

Dubai International Airport Ups 2023 Passenger Forecast to 85 Million Amid Travel Surge

DUBAI — Paul Griffiths, the CEO of Dubai Airports, revealed that there's an immediate need to enhance the capacity of Dubai International Airport (DXB), as he anticipates significant air traffic growth over the next decade. This follows the airport's revised passenger forecast for 2023, now expected to reach 85 million travelers, up from the previous projection of 83.6 million. The upgraded numbers are due to a surge in travel activity, taking passenger levels back to pre-pandemic figures.

In the first half of 2023, DXB registered a 49% increase in passengers compared to the same period last year, welcoming approximately 41.6 million travelers. This also exceeded the numbers for the same period in 2019, before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Besides focusing on immediate capacity improvements at DXB, Griffiths mentioned the necessity to accelerate plans for the city's second airport, Al Maktoum International (DWC). The airport is built to handle even larger passenger volumes once it's fully operational.

China, the world's second-largest economy, is expected to significantly contribute to this growth. With the lifting of strict Covid lockdowns earlier this year, the country is reopening to international travelers. Griffiths notes that the demand for long-haul travel has been particularly strong from China.

The bullish numbers aren't confined to the airport alone. Emirates, Dubai’s flagship airline, declared a profit of $3 billion for the year ending March 2023. Alongside, the city experienced a record number of tourist arrivals in the first half of this year, pushing hotel room rates to new highs.

The upswing in the travel sector has also sparked discussions about an IPO for Dubai Airports. While Griffiths considers airports to be an "attractive proposition" for public listings, he clarified that any such decision would be at the discretion of the government, as it plans to privatize more state-owned firms.