Dubai Airports says it will turn to product innovation and operational improvements to accommodate rising passenger traffic at Dubai International airport. Footfall is expected to reach 118 million people a year by 2023.

The airport’s current capacity stands at 90 million passengers following the opening of Concourse D at Terminal 1 in 2016, with no room left for additional infrastructure to be built to accommodate rapid growth.

“Dubai Airports is joining forces with its key stakeholders to design product innovation and operational improvements that will deliver on the sector’s ambition and ensure ongoing contributions to Dubai’s economy,” Lorne Riley, Dubai Airports’ director for corporate communications, tells MEED.

Riley says operational experts will ensure the best use of all terminals and concourses to attain maximum capacity and optimal customer experience.

A source familiar with the airport’s operations said these innovations will include a system that monitors passenger movements in the airport’s transit areas to calculate the time needed for travellers to finalise their boarding process, localising the look and feel of the airport to cater to non-Arabic and non-English speaking passengers, and improving the airport’s baggage-handling system.

Other improvements include the recent award of a $190m contract to upgrade Concourse C at the airport.The contract involves the overhaul of the systems serving the concourse, such as the baggage-handling areas.

Dubai’s flagship air carrier Emirates Airline is expected to shift its operations from Dubai International to Dubai World Central (DWC) in 2025, when phase 2 of the airport, which is expected to bring capacity to 120-130 million passengers a year, is completed.

Until then Dubai Airports will be the main gateway for air traffic, with additional capacity to be handled by DWC, whose existing terminal is being expanded to reach 26 million by 2018.

Dubai Airports expects some 85 million passengers to pass through Dubai International in 2016. The organisers of the Dubai Expo 2020 expect up to 25 million visitors between October 2020 and April 2021, the majority of whom will be travelling by air to reach Dubai.