Grand plans by Dubai’s ruling family to build an airport which serves as a mega-hub with five parallel runways and the capacity to handle something in the region of 200 million passengers per year have apparently been put on hold. That’s according to five separate sources who have spoken on condition of anonymity with the Reuters news agency.
The huge Al Maktoum International Airport, which is sometimes known as Dubai World Central (DWC) is located 23 miles southwest of downtown Dubai and covers a massive 35,000 acres. The airport first opened in 2010 and was expected to expand in phases before becoming the new home of Emirates Airlines around 2025.
People familiar with the airport’s development, however, now claim that timeline has been pushed back – although it’s not known by how much or perhaps more importantly, why. The airport already serves as the base for Emirates SkyCargo and a number of smaller passenger airlines.
As DWC developed, officials had hoped to transfer all of flydubai’s operations to the airport within the next couple of years. Those plans, though, were put on hold last year when flydubai and Emirates announced a major partnership which would require them to co-locate their services at Dubai International Airport (DXB).
Dubai’s Department of Finance had apparently secured a $3 billion (USD) loan last year to fund the next stage of development but this hasn’t yet been used. The total development costs are expected to cost $36 billion but construction has been beset with delays.
DWC first opened to passenger traffic in 2013 and once a delayed expansion plan is completed will have the capacity to handle 26 million passengers a year. Yet in the first six months of 2018, the airport only handled 518,000 passengers. That number is actually down nearly 37,000 on the first six months of 2017.
The airport’s modular design will allow it to open in phases with initial planning documents suggesting that Emirates would switch to DWC after 2023 – That apparently has now been delayed with sources suggesting the project is now being redesigned. There’s been no official comment from Dubai Airports.
Officials are working on an expansion project at the two-runway Dubai International Airport which will eventually see it able to handle 118 million passengers a year. The airport is the busiest in the world for international passengers and the third busiest overall.