According to a report in the UK’s The Independent newspaper, Dubai International Airport (DXB) – the world’s busiest airport by international passenger numbers – will be forced to close one of its two runways for around 45 days during April and May next year.
According to the airport’s chief executive, Paul Griffiths, the decision to close a runway for such a long period of time was “absolutely necessary” in order to “heighten safety, boost capacity and pave the way for future growth.”
The closure will take place between 16th April to 30th May 2019.
Hemmed in on all sides by bustling neighbourhoods, Dubai International Airport was first developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. What was once a tiny regional airport has grown into a mega-hub for Emirates and now handles something in the region of 1,121 flight movements every day.
Last year, DXB saw over 88 million passengers pass through its doors – a 5.5% increase on the previous year. By 2020, the airport expects to be handling 103 million passengers a year, despite the fact the mere two-runway airport has pretty much-reached capacity.
Much of that growth will come from Emirates’ use of superjumbo Airbus A380 double-decker aircraft and increasing the average load factor.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Dubai International said the closure could result in a 43% reduction in flight movements. However, by timing the closure in April and May, the airport hopes as few passengers as possible will be impacted due to a “seasonal lull” in passenger numbers.
The southern runway is said to be nearing the end of its design life with much work needed to resurface the runway and replace ground lighting. The northern runway has already had a similar upgrade back in 2014.
At the moment, the airport won’t be drawn on how badly this decision could affect passenger numbers next year – it’s expected that airlines will be encouraged to merge flights that are then operated by larger aircraft in order to manage the disruption.
Dubai is currently developing a huge new super-sized airport to the south of the city centre. Once complete, the Dubai World Central airport will have five parallel runways with a capacity to handle 160 million passengers every year – easily the world’s largest airport according to figures provided by the airport authority.
However, the grand vision is still a long way off, with just one runway complete to date and only four airlines operating from its one terminal building.
flydubai, the city’s low-cost airline was due to move all of its operations to DWC but has decided to retain most of its services at DXB due to a new partnership and codeshare deal with Emirates.
Last year, Mumbai International Airport stole the title of world’s busiest single-runway airport – with 837 flights handled a day. That equates to flight movement every 65 seconds. DXB may well take that prize in April and May 2019.