DUBAI: 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 compared to 2019.

The Middle East's 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 $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 worldwide will reach Dubai in mid-May 2024 to participate in the world’s largest annual event dedicated to the airport 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).

H.H. 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, digitalisation, 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.”

Organised by RX, part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools that organises 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.

May Ismail, Event Manager at RX, stated, “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 suggest 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 $450 billion in investments. There were 225 new airport projects, and more than 70 percent of the investment was in Asia Pacific. There were 1,074 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 $1.14 trillion in 2023 and would reach $1.8 trillion by 2030.

Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest airport for international travellers 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 $2. 7 billion. The capacity and service level enhancements over the coming ten 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 ($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.