DWC Phase 2

Dubai Airports forecasts that passenger demand could exceed 190 million passengers a year by 2030. This is expected to climb to over 260 million by 2040, and as high as 309 million by 2050. To continue the growth of the sector and, accordingly, its economic and social contributions to Dubai and the UAE, DWC must be developed into the world’s largest and, importantly, most advanced and customer-centric airport.

A New Approach

As a result, Dubai Airports, in conjunction with Dubai’s aviation sector board, has formulated a plan to accommodate anticipated demand with top-flight infrastructure and a completely new approach to airport design, which will enable the continued escalation of traffic whilst reaching new heights of connectivity and passenger service.

During its formulation, the strategy’s objectives were to ensure a common approach in the development of DWC, consider a full range of conceptual options and promote passenger experience and innovation into the planning process early on, to ensure that all recommendations are “future-proofed”. Additionally, the planning process has provided an opportunity for the sector to do what Dubai does best – innovate and change the existing paradigm to provide a world-class experience.

The airport experience is often the most inconvenient part of air travel

Evolving the Experience

Dubai Airports, along with the emirate’s entire aviation sector, recognises that the current design parameters, processes and technology used in airports today cannot be applied to a larger scale airport without efficiency and service quality being negatively impacted. Legacy approaches and systems must either be reworked or discarded completely to evolve and improve the passenger experience. Much of this work will be achieved through the Dubai Plus programme by 2023.

Over the years, the industry has taken a number of successful incremental steps to improve the ground-based part of the journey – such as internet-based distribution, e-ticketing and home-printed boarding passes, to name a few. Cumbersome and time-consuming airport processes continue to frustrate the traveller. Security is intrusive and inefficient, using the same basic technology as it did in the 1970s. Similarly, check-in and transfer processes are wasteful and have yet to take full advantage of existing technologies. At the root of this malaise is the fact that all of these activities take place in separate, vertical silos, whilst passengers bump roughly across the joins between them.


High growth rates and passenger and cargo traffic volumes projected in the decades ahead.

To delight customers, an integrated, customer-centric approach is now urgently needed to ensure passengers continue to return to Dubai. Airports must invest heavily in innovative, customer-oriented technology and processes to eliminate queues and increase retail opportunities by driving out cumbersome, outdated process and optimising dwell time.

Similarly, airport design must be scalable and modular in order to adapt and respond quickly and cost-effectively to changing business environments as well as fluctuations in medium and long-term traffic forecasts. Alternative sources of energy must be built in and optimised to promote sustainability. Both the model and the approach must change radically and Dubai provides the collaborative model and business environment, along with a 140 square kilometre greenfield site, to effect that breakthrough shift in thinking and approach.

DWC Phase 2 addresses the requirement for timely and flexible capacity expansion to accommodate the high growth rates and passenger and cargo traffic volumes projected in the decades ahead.

Most importantly, the design ensures a proper balance between scale and intimacy. Although passengers may be passing through the world’s largest airport, which offers unmatched connectivity and choice of destination, they won’t sense the scale – with minimal walking distances and queues and a warm, welcoming environment.