The new Al-Maktoum International airport at Dubai World Central (DWC) is to open for passenger traffic on 27 October this year. Eventually the new airport will help alleviate the increasing congestion at the existing airport in Dubai.

Passenger traffic at Dubai International airport continues to break records, with a total of 57.6 million international passengers passing through the airport in 2012.

In February, airport passenger numbers rose to 5.08 million, an increase of 11.4 per cent compared with the same month last year. Year-to-date, passenger numbers are already up by 13 per cent on last year, with more than 10.6 million passengers passing through the airport.

Dubai Airports, the operator of Dubai International, has forecast a total of 66 million passengers to pass through the airport this year.

These figures have helped Dubai become the second-busiest airport in the world, with only London’s Heathrow attracting more passengers.

It is also driving the need for more airlines to use the new DWC airport instead.

The Al-Maktoum airport will initially only offer a 7-million-passenger capacity, although the masterplan envisages the airport to be expanded to ultimately cater for 160 million passengers every year by the 2020s.

This is a significant leap from the current capacity of 75 million passengers at the existing airport.

However, a question mark hangs over when, or if, carriers currently using the existing airport will transfer operations to the new airport.

Currently only two low-cost carriers, the European Wizz Air and Saudi Arabia’s Nasair, have agreed to operate from the new airport, although further announcements are expected.

Until the transfer of major airlines such as Dubai’s flyship carrier Emirates is confirmed, the existing airport will have to continue to upgrade and expand its infrastructure to better handle increasing passenger volumes.

Already this year the airport opened Concourse A, which caters solely for Emirates’ jumbo A380 aircraft. Terminal 2 is also being expanded, while Terminal 1 is being upgraded and Concourse D is being built.

Since the beginning of 2012, about $300m-worth of contracts related to the expansion of Dubai International have been awarded, including a $48m contract awarded to local firm Alec for Concourse 4 and a $153m contract covering the expansion of Terminal 2.

Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects has also invited companies to bid by 15 April for a contract to refurbish Terminal 1 at the existing airport. The upgrade is needed to accommodate the increase in passengers once construction on concourse D is completed.