Al Maktoum airport will fuel future growth



Dubai Launched to take Dubai’s aviation growth forward by at least three decades, Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International airport will be ready when Dubai’s original airport, Dubai International, celebrates its 50th anniversary.

While Dubai International is still enjoying single-digit growth in passenger numbers and cargo volumes, it is operating close to capacity.

Many developments are still ongoing at Concourse 2 as Emirate’s Terminal 3 opens to accommodate the growth of the ever-expanding airline.

Cargo volumes handled by the airport are approaching two million tonnes, a 5.6 per cent growth. Meanwhile, passengers increased by 9.5 per cent to 41 million.

Annual passenger traffic at Dubai International is expected to increase 13.6 per cent this year to 46 million.

Future growth is limited due to the airport’s location near the middle of the city and this is where the Al maktoum International comes into the picture.

In the short term the new airport will increase the ability of Dubai to handle the 48 per cent increase in cargo volumes from 1.9 million to three million tonnes, anticipated by 2015.

Passenger terminals

In the long term, it will serve as a multi-modal logistics hub for 12 million tonnes of freight, though its debut year’s capacity will be only 250,000 tonnes.

Meanwhile, the passenger terminal is set to open in March 2011 with an initial capacity of five million passengers a year.

When complete, the airport with its five runways and four passenger terminals will be able to handle a staggering 160 million passengers a year.

However, the datelines for the project phases remain hazy.

“We are testing the market for the future phases. We are living in a time of difficulty now. There are a lot of future partners who are hesitating due to the economic situation,” said Khalifa Al Zafein, Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation – DWC.

Overspill capacity

The completion date is being played by ear. “If you had asked me this two years ago, the story would’ve been very different.

“I would’ve told you that we would be ready by 2025 for the ultimate phase of the airport. Now I cannot say that.

“We have to see how we can prolong the life of Dubai International Airport and take some of the overspill capacity to this airport,” rather than having most of the airlines shift their base to the new location, he said.

While Logistics City, a major component of Dubai World Central, was given priority and hence the connecting cargo terminal, the passenger side is in full swing, along with some other projects in the development that sits on 140 square kilometres of land near Jebel Ali.

Transfer of goods from sea to air will experience renewed growth with the launch of cargo operations from Al Maktoum International

Located within a driving distance of 30 minutes, the Jebel Ali port will be connected to the cargo operations at the airport by a corridor that will cut goods transfer time significantly. The sea-to-air model started in Dubai during the 1980s, when Port Rashid and Dubai International Airport picked up speed until the city’s congestion situation hampered the trend.

“With Al Maktoum International airport, I’m confident that business will grow again. We’ve built a corridor between Jebel Ali port and the airport that allow goods to be transferred to a plane within 40 minutes from the time it is taken off a ship,” Mohammad Al Mua’allem, Senior Vice-President and Managing Director of the UAE at the world’s fourth largest port operator, DP World told Gulf News.

He said the time would be further reduced in the future.

“It [the airport] will encourage the sea-to-air model again and bring opportunities for the logistics and aviation industry,” he added.

By Nadia Saleemnline/online.js?js=v.1.0.6′ type=’text/javascript’>