New Dubai departure tax to raise over $800 million per year

The world’s busiest airport for international traffic will apply a new departure tax to bookings made from April 1, 2016 for travel from June 30, 2016 onwards. The service fee will cost 35 dirham – around $9.50.

Passengers flying through Dubai International Airport will now have to pay a passenger tax of 35 dirham. This new tax will help to fund Dubai airports’ infrastructure and support expansion. The airport is forecasted to handle a record 85 million passengers this year and by 2023, it is estimated that 100 million passengers will pass through the facility.

With passenger numbers soaring year-on-year at the major hub airport, which has overtaken Heathrow as the busiest airport in the world, hundreds of millions will be made every year from the airport tax. More than 78 million people used Dubai International in the 2015 calendar year – if an estimate is created from these figures, the airport tax would have brought in $743 million. Had the tax incurred in January of this year, this would have seen the airport generate almost $70 million in that month alone.

The tax will help to fund renovations and expansions to Terminal 1 and 2 as part of a Dh4.4 billion investment – of which, the recently opened Concourse D is a part of – in order to improve service and capacity. Concourse D opened on February 24 2016, which has increased Dubai International’s capacity to 90 million passengers - Concourse D itself has a capacity of 18 million passengers. The overall cost of this amounted to 3.35 billion dirham.

Airlines operating at Dubai airports are in charge of collecting this new service fee when they issue tickets, which will be transferred to Dubai Airports and then the government treasury. Those exempt from paying the fee include children under two years of age, working cabin crew and passengers who don’t change aircraft at Dubai and continue on a single flight number service.

This means that the flights of Australian carrier Qantas linking London, Melbourne and Sydney with Dubai will not be effected by the new ruling as these operate under the same flight code with Dubai acting as a technical stop, albeit also enabling transfer options via the Emirates Airline network.

It is not yet known if the other GCC cities such as Abu Dhabi and Doha will take a similar approach. Their passenger numbers are on a notably smaller scale – Abu Dhabi catered to more than 23 million passengers in 2015, whereas Doha welcomed more than 30 million. Despite the lesser passenger count, these figures are increasing substantially year on year. In 2015, both airports recorded a 17 percent or higher year-on-year growth, which looks set to continue growing.