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Wed 7 Mar 2012 12:41 PM

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New Dubai airport set for 2027 take-off

Dubai Airport's CEO said opening of new airport pushed back 10 years

New Dubai airport set for 2027 take-off
Griffiths says the new airport has been pushed back ten years.

Dubai’s major airport project, the US$34bn Al Maktoum International Airport, is likely to begin full commercial passenger services from 2027, the CEO of Dubai Airports has said.

Part of the Dubai World Central (DWC) logistics complex, the new airport will replace Dubai International as the Middle East’s major aviation hub, and is scheduled to be the world’s largest airport by the time it opens.

“The original [plan] was to have some capacity online for 2017, we’ve pushed that back by about ten years... something around [2027],” Dubai Airports’ CEO Paul Griffiths told Arabian Business in an interview.

“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.”

Dubai Airports slowed its development of Al Maktoum International in the wake of the global financial crisis, which halted a number of big-ticket projects as government agencies around the emirate struggled to pay trade creditors.

The revised plan included spending US$7.8bn to increase capacity at the existing facility, in a bid to boost cashflow for the new project and maintain Dubai’s status as home to the world’s fourth largest airport.

“Economics have changed enormously in the last four years and obviously we have had to adapt,” said Griffiths.

“We’re changing the timeline and order we bring the facilities online so that there’s more generated cash from this airfield... and a longer timeline to invest. Both of those things will make the cashflow support that we require for the development [of Al Maktoum] much more manageable.

“We [also] realised that during the construction period, if we didn’t have any capacity growth at Dubai International, the opportunity we would be losing to other airports of growing passenger traffic would be significant.”

By the middle of the next decade, the aim is to have a capacity for 80m passengers at the new airport, allowing Dubai’s state-owned carrier Emirates to move its entire operation to the new hub.  

The immediate focus is to increase cargo operations at the second airport, and see its first commercial passenger flight at some point this year.

“We have a passenger terminal building at the moment there which we are readying for operation during the course of 2012 but that’s only got a capacity of around 7m passengers, so it’s nowhere near adequate for the Emirates operation.

“The aim is that as soon as we’ve got business for it and its ready for use we will open it… We’ve had a number of discussions with different airlines about potential operations, but passenger airlines tend to plan their operations quite late, so it’s quite likely we’ll be announcing quite late what the plans are for the passenger operation.

He added that the airport had recently announced plans to develop more cargo terminals at Al Maktoum, of a similar size to the existing shed which can handle around 250,000 tonnes of cargo per year.

“The good thing about DWC is that we’ve got plenty of space to build additional facilities.

“We’re looking at developing another two plots, this will give us [a capacity of about] 750,000 tonnes.”

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robert 7 years ago

Go back to March 2007 when Emirates Airline president Tim Clark says that he hopes discussions will start in "a couple of months" about accelerating the airport's development. "The existing airport will be reaching maximum capacity by 2013, so by 2016, we should be moving to Jebel Ali," he says.

That was then - this is now ! DXB is being extended with the new T3 concourse and a new T4 to 90 million pax. But the problem is landing and take-off slots which are no longer available at peak times. The LCCs need to move to Jebel Ali to free up slots at DXB; but no airline will want to move - including flydubai as that will limit connections to EK. EK itself will have to make use of less convenient arrival and departure times and the airport regulators will need to find ways to better use the two existing runways - using both runways for landings at peak times would be a start.....

Jake 7 years ago

“The aim is that as soon as we’ve got business for it and its ready for use we will open it… " Seems confident.

I've seen the terminal, doesn't look any major airline would use it. Reminds me actually of those airports Ryan Air flies to, an hour away from the place you actually want to fly to.

JKC 7 years ago

Infact that terminal is targetted towards low-budget. So it makes sense why it looks like the way it looks.

Salim Shaikh 7 years ago

2027 seems like a date from the Nostradamus parable. All the unreasonable revised dates for any projects earlier announced
means that they were part of the bubble that went burst while
how far they are pushed back are the measure of how bloated
they were at the on set.

Frank 7 years ago

Can't use both runways for landing. They are too close to each other.

Pride 7 years ago

Hail Dubai!!! Long live our leaders, and praises to their team of professionals!! Onwards and upwards!!

Omar 7 years ago

What a shame!!!! Almost every time my flight lands between 9PM - 3AM, the plane would need to take several rounds for no less than 30 minutes up to 90 minutes before we eventually land and then, 30min. bus ride to the terminal with all confusion it offers. Even a couple of times and after circling for 90 min. we had to land in AD for refueling and waited 1 more hour to land in DXB. The airport is incredibly small for a #2 or 3 busiest int'l airport title. both runways are too close and not efficient. many European carriers would consider DWC (closer to Marina/EHills,AR, Palm and Jebel Ali). Fly Dubai would also get more Al Ain and AD passengers eager for cheaper rates while Air Arabia is covering fulling northern Emirates.

robert 7 years ago

Frank, SFO manages this with a 750ft separation between the centerlines on both parallel runways - DXB also has the advantage of a significant offset between the runways.

Something will need to be done - so this may have to be an option to manage arrivals over the next 15 yrs!

fritz 7 years ago

No chance. Dubai is living beyond its means and does not have the capacity or capability to deliver.

Frank 7 years ago

Omar, refer to my reply to Robert at the bottom of the page. Especially point 3.