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Mon 7 Apr 2014 12:20 PM

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Complete guide to Dubai airport's runway closure

How the refurbishment project, from May 1 to July 20, will affect the airport's operations

Complete guide to Dubai airport's runway closure

Dubai International Airport is refurbishing its runways from May 1 to July 20. Our sister magazine Aviation Business Middle East has compiled a comprehensive guide to what will happen and how it will affect operations:

Runway closure May-July 2014

Both runways at Dubai International will undergo a phased refurbishment and upgrading during an 80-day period commencing May 1, 2014.

The southern runway will be closed from May 1 to May 31, 2014 while the northern runway will be out of operation from May 31 to July 20, 2014 as the upgrades are implemented.

To safeguard service levels and optimise capacity while the work is taking place, scheduled passenger flights at Dubai International will be reduced and all freighter, charter and general aviation flights will be diverted to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC). In all there will be a 26 percent reduction in the number of aircraft movements at DXB during the maintenance period.

As airlines will be using bigger aircraft where possible and load factors are expected to be higher than usual, the actual reduction in seat and passenger numbers will be less than 26 percent.

The northern runway is nearing the end of its design life and requires resurfacing and other modifications to accommodate future traffic. At the same time there is a requirement to upgrade runway lighting and construct new rapid exit taxiways on the southern runway to boost capacity.

The runway rehabilitation and additional taxiway construction will result in the consumption of circa 800,000 tonnes of aggregates, 11,000 airfield lighting luminaires, 1,050km of cabling, 1,750 new manholes and 8.3km of drainage piping.

Other than the planned changes to flight schedules, the construction will have no direct impact on traffic. However, a single runway means less flexibility and therefore significant planning is underway to ensure that Dubai International is able to quickly recover from any disruption such as poor weather conditions.

Impact on flight schedules

Airports Council (ACL) has allocated 96 percent of the total available capacity during the runway maintenance period. The total resulting reduction has now reached 26 percent. The base carriers – Emirates Airline and flydubai – are contributing 52.8 percent of the total required reduction while the restriction of freighters and charter operators, together with other scheduled passenger airlines are contributing 47.2 percent of the required reduction.

Airlines flying to Dubai have already started communicating schedule changes required by the runway refurbishment programme with some airlines electing to move their flights to Al Maktoum International for the duration of the 80 days.

In its planning, Dubai Airports has built in flexibility into the flight schedule over the 80 days to ensure that should there be any delays, such as poor weather conditions, it is able to quickly recover to normal operations.

Planning for the 80 day closure

Runway resurfacing is a common occurrence with airports around the world. However, as Dubai International offers airlines a 24/7 operation, runway closures are more complex and must be meticulously planned.

To ease the impact of the 80-day closure significant work and planning is under way. This includes construction work that is being conducted before the 80-day refurbishment period.

Pre-works include the construction of an end around taxiway to Dubai International’s northern runway. The new taxiway will allow aircraft using the southern runway to taxi to the north side of the airfield, avoiding crossing over the northern runway and thus improving traffic flow on both runways both during and after the refurbishment programme.

Other works include construction of rapid exit taxiways on both runways which will reduce runway occupancy times. Most of the construction will take place prior to May1 and will be completed during the 80-day period.

Dubai Airports has formed several operational and planning groups and task forces involving people from across stakeholder groups to ensure smooth transition and operations throughout the programme at both airports.

Dubai World Central

Flight levels at DWC during the 80-day closure remains a work in progress as airlines consider their options. Currently Al Maktoum has 1,424 weekly scheduled aircraft movements on average but that number could increase in the months ahead.

Airlines which already operate, and will continue to operate normally during the 80-day closure, include Wizz Air, Jazeera Airlines, Gulf Air and Qatar Airways.

As with Dubai International, DWC will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will continue to provide a fully integrated ground transportation solution for Al Maktoum International with a regular bus service from key locations in Dubai and a dedicated fleet of taxis serving the airport. Dubai Airports will also provide a full-service express bus service every 30 minutes between the two airports.

Construction during the 80-day closure

More than 144 vehicles per peak hour will entry and exit the airport, adding additional traffic to the roads around Dubai International. More than 150,000 truckloads of concrete, asphalt, materials and personnel will need to be transported to and from the airport for the duration of the runway refurbishment programme.

More than 2,500 employees will be involved in the construction and refurbishment of the runways.

Facts and Figures

Northern runway: 4,000m by 60m

Southern runway: 4.500m by 60m

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Dawood Hajwani 5 years ago

Dubai means business; Dubai leads the way. Who could have imagined in 1987-88 that the airline started with two borrowed aircraft would result in such a behemoth having close to 400 aircraft either in service or on order. Runway up-gradation is part of preparation for Expo 2020 which is expected to catapult Dubai into big league.

While all this is welcome, what needs to mentioned here is that the inflationary trends are visible all over U.A.E. with rents spiralliing. One doesn't wish to see a repeat of 2008.