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Wed 13 Feb 2008 01:44 PM

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Hyper-sonic planes won’t affect Dubai, airports chief says

Dubai Airports' CEO Paul Griffiths has dismissed concerns about the region's aviation industry suffering if new hyper-sonic planes hit the market.

Dubai Airports' CEO Paul Griffiths has dismissed concerns about the region's aviation industry suffering if new hyper-sonic planes hit the market.

Last week, aircraft manufacturer Reaction Engines claimed it had developed a plane that can fly from Europe to Australia in four hours.

Such technology is unlikely to be available for at least 25 years, according to Reaction's management. But even if it does arrive, Griffiths believes airlines will continue flying to the emirate.

Speaking to Aviation Business, Griffiths said: "There were fears years ago when non-stop aircraft was first capable of flying the Middle East to Asia that the market here would have a problem. That's why the Middle East has grasped the opportunity to create reasons why people should come here for tourism.

"It's a great place that's languished for many years as people have asked ‘why would you go on holiday to the Middle East?' But they are now waking up to the fact that there is a real reason to do that.

"In the 1980s and 1990s, Florida [was the tourist hotspot] and by the turn of the 21st century the Middle East has come into its own as a major tourist destination for foreign companies to set up."

According to Reaction's management, the A2 hypersonic aircraft would travel at Mach 5, almost 4000mph and twice the speed of Concorde. It also said the plane, which measures 143 metres long, would be capable of carrying 300 passengers.

Griffiths believes the arrival of such an aircraft would benefit, and not hinder, Dubai's aviation sector. "If there is that degree of technological change then Dubai to Australia will only be two hours and you can then fly non-stop from any two points on the globe.

"Dubai by then will have established itself as such a major city that people will want to go to, from Australia to Dubai in two hours or Europe to Dubai in 40 minutes. I would applaud that; if I could get home to the UK in an hour-and-a-half it would be fantastic."

The A2's creation was financed by the European Space Agency, which encourages companies to continually develop air travel by using aerospace technology.

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