Dubai’s second airport, Dubai World Central, will launch commercial services for the first time in October this year.
The airport, which is projected to be the world’s largest when fully completed, will welcome Saudi Arabia’s second carrier, nasair, and Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air on October 27.
The passenger terminal at Dubai World Central - also known as Al Maktoum International Airport - was completed in 2012, according to a statement released by Dubai Airports. The current facility has one A380-capable runway, 64 remote aircraft stands, and has capacity for up to seven million passengers a year.
Jamal Al Hai, Dubai Airports executive vice president for international relations and communications, told reporters that the company had been “getting applications every month from new airlines” to move to DWC.
Al Hai confirmed that Dubai's Emirates Airline, the Middle East's largest carrier, currently had no firm plans to move to the hub. "When they want to move, they [will] move," he said. "It is the choice of Emirates to move to the airport. When? I cannot say. We leave it to them to decide."
Al Hai added that Emirates could potentially split operations between Dubai's two airports. "Emirates may split operations, this may happen."
Al Hai said that it was a similar decision for flydubai, a budget carrier based in the emirate, which had yet to make up its mind on moving to the facility.
The passenger terminal at the $33bn Dubai World Central - also known as Al Maktoum International Airport - was completed in 2012. The current facility has one A380-capable runway, 64 remote aircraft stands, and has capacity for up to seven million passengers a year.
Upon completion, Dubai World Central will become the world’s largest airport with five runways and an ultimate capacity of 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo per annum.
The statement also said that nasair would operate “over 50 flights a week” between Dubai and a number of destinations in Saudi Arabia. Wizz Air, which has sixteen bases across Europe and a hub at London Luton will provide services to a series of Central and Eastern European destinations via its flight of 40 Airbus A320 aircraft.
Dubai World Central opened for cargo operations in 2010, and has 36 all-cargo airlines operating from the site, which is based in Jebel Ali. Approval for general aviation operations – mainly involving private jets – was granted in 2011.
The emirate’s existing airport, Dubai International Airport (DIA), is in the middle of a $7.8bn expansion programme. This month, it became the second-biggest airport in the world in terms of international passengers, according to data from Airports Council International (ACI).
In January, DIA opened an A380-specific terminal, Concourse 3, and it is also refurbishing Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.
The plan is for all existing operations at DIA, including Emirates, to be shifted over to Dubai World Central, although the date for that is unclear. Last year, Griffiths hinted to Arabian Business that this would take place at some point in the 2020s.
“[Ultimately] the idea is to build a facility that’s large enough so that Emirates and other airlines could move, not necessarily at the same time, but within a fairly short timeframe,” he said.
“Emirates relies on having a very tight and efficient connecting operation here at DIA, so you can’t spread that across the distant hubs, it’s got to be in the same place. Emirates is growing so quickly and such a large airline already that to move that to the new airport you’ve got to have enough capacity to take the entire operation.”
* Additional reporting by Daniel Shane