UAE to invest $23.1bn into airport development and expansion

Country will have a combined capacity to handle more than 300m passengers per year

The UAE is to invest $23.16 billion into airport development and expansion that will see the country’s airports have a combined capacity to handle in excess of 300 million passengers per year, organisers of the upcoming Global Investment in Aviation Summit (GIAS) in Dubai have said.

Dubai is set to hold the first Global Investment in Aviation Summit from January 27 to 29 in 2019. The three-day summit will be attended by the world’s top 500 aviation investors, with delegates from 40 countries. These will include 20 ‘Aviation Ambassadors’, 10 Knowledge Partners, 200 aviation officials and 300 investors, a statement said.

The UAE’s investment airport development includes $8 billion spent on Al Maktoum International Airport, $7.6 billion on the expansion of Phase IV of Dubai International Airport and $6.8 billion on the re-development and expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport. Many of these investments have been supported by the country’s banks and financial institutions.

In addition, Sharjah International Airport is also undergoing a $408.3 million investment for the expansion of its terminal.

The UAE has 14 airports, airstrips and airfields, served by 113 airlines, with total annual take-off and landings in excess of 540,000.

“I am delighted to be here today as we prepare for the Global Investment in Aviation Summit. This summit is very close to UAE’s heart, as we have much to be proud of as a nation, from our humble aviation beginnings to now one of the biggest passenger hubs in the world,” said Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director-general of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

“Our airlines and airports have been ranking consistently as among the best internationally. On compliance level, UAE ranked as a top member state of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The Global Investment in Aviation Summit is UAE’s testament on how far we have achieved and of our commitment to push the nation to be a global pioneer in this field. The glass ceiling is not too high to break as we have mounted unimaginable innovations.

“Yet, looking forward, we know that we can still do more. In fact, conservatively, we anticipate accommodating 118 million passengers by 2023 at the Dubai International Airport, and 120 million passengers upon completion of phase 2 of the Dubai World Central, and 200 million passengers upon its completion, all in ultra-modern infrastructures that match, if not surpass, the best in the world,” Al Suwaidi added.

The summit is being held at a time when the region’s aviation industry is riding high on efficiency and performance, with the Emirates Group posting a profit of $1.1 billion for the financial year ending March 31, 2018 – a 67% increase from the previous year.

The combined fleet size of the four UAE airlines reached 502, including Emirates’ fleet of 268, Etihad Airways’ 120, FlyDubai’s 61 and Air Arabia’s 53. The UAE airlines add between 4-5 aircraft per month and the total combined fleet size of the UAE’s four airlines is expected to cross 525 by the end of this year. There are also more than 300 aircraft on order.

“The UAE is the largest airline market and aviation hub in the Middle East and North Africa and it is still the most vibrant market where the airlines are adding new aircraft every month to their fleet,” Al Suwaidi said.

“Not only as the country hosting the largest combined aircraft fleet, the UAE has also joined the global aircraft manufacturing supply chain management with Strata manufacturing aircraft components for both Boeing and Airbus.

“Dubai South – the largest aviation hub – is also developing aviation, airline and aviation-related industries and institutions, that will help the region develop new technical and research capabilities that will help the global aviation industry.

“With the growing industry that also needs continuous investment, it is befitting for the UAE to host the Global Investment in Aviation Summit – where industry leaders could network, assess and do business deals for developing new capabilities for the aviation industry.”

He said the Summit will also offer the local market, from within the aviation industry and its related sectors, a great opportunity to expand their business operations from fresh investments generated from the summit. GIAS 2019 will be a specialized and focused gathering where the local market can network with investors to present their ideas and projects.

Dubai South is the world’s largest Aerotropolis hosting Al Maktoum International Airport – the world’s largest greenfield airport development. It is undergoing a massive development programme, with investment of more than $30 billion. It will be the future home of Emirates Airline – the world’s largest international airline.



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