The timeline for the $33bn expansion of Al-Maktoum International airport, Dubai’s second airport, will remain the same despite weaker growth in terms of passenger traffic last year at Dubai International and a turbulent year in terns of the overall aviation industry, according to Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), chairman of Dubai Airports and chairman and CEO of Emirates Aviation Group.

“There will always be challenges but we remain optimistic about the future,” Al-Maktoum told MEED on the sidelines of the Airport Show organised by CAPA – Centre for Aviation in Dubai.

Passenger traffic growth at Dubai International airport slowed to 7.2 per cent in 2016 compared to 11 per cent in the previous year.

Al-Maktoum’s statement comes a day after a $3bn credit facility that will be utilised for the expansion of both Al-Maktoum International and the operational enhancements of Dubai International has been finalised and announced.

The credit facility, signed under the name of Airport Financing Company (Finco), is the first stage of a larger and long-term funding programme which will transform Al-Maktoum International into the primary airport for Dubai, a statement published by the UAE News Agency (WAM) said.

“The facilities represent the debut financing for Finco as part of the long-term funding platform established for Dubai Airports,” the statement said.

HSBC acted as the financial advisor for the credit facility.

The next phase of the expansion of Al-Maktoum International will see the airport capacity reach up to 146 million passengers, over 50 million more than the current capacity of Dubai International.

Several contracts related to the expansion of Dubai’s second airport are expected to be awarded this year, including the baggage handling system, tunnel facility to be utilised by the the BHS, and the automated people mover (APM) system.

On 11 May, Emirates Group reported profits of AED2.5bn ($670m) for the fiscal year ending 31 March, which is 70 per cent lower compared with the figure reported a year earlier. Al-Maktoum has said the previous fiscal year has been the company’s most challenging to date.