Dubai-based Emirates said Saturday it would be forced to ground at least 48 aircraft including its flagship superjumbo Airbus A380 for around 45-days in April and May due to major engineering work at Dubai International Airport (DXB). The airline’s home is the busiest two-runway airport in the world and Emirates contributes the lions share of traffic with its owns dedicated terminal.
Dubai International Airport is hoping to have welcomed over 90 million passengers through its doors in 2018 but runway improvement works will seriously curtail the airport’s ambitions for 2019. The southern runway is approaching the end of its design life and needs extensive work to keep it safe and operating at full capacity.
“While ongoing runway maintenance is scheduled on a weekly basis, more extensive upgrades require a complete closure of the runway,” the airport explained when the plans were initially announced early last year.
“The southern runway refurbishment project will involve the placement of approximately 60,000 tonnes of asphalt and 8,000m3 of concrete to strengthen and resurface the runway and the adjacent taxiways.” A similar closure took place in 2014 when work had to carried out on DXB’s northern runway.
It seems almost incomprehensible that an airport would have to completely close a runway for over a month – Dubai International Airport operates 24-hours a day, 365 days a year and see’s over 1,000 takeoff’s and landing’s every day so any closure is going to have a big impact.
Emirates has already published most of its schedule changes and we now know that’s going to equate to a 25% reduction in its normal flying programme. The airport and airline said the runway closure was timed during a natural lull in passenger demand but even so, that’s a huge reduction.
“Through the year, we will continue to keep a close watch on global markets and will maintain our flexibility to optimise the usage of our aircraft assets,” explained the airline’s president, Sir Tim Clark.
The number of passengers using Dubai International Airport fell some 0.8% in November, meaning DXB will need a record month in December to meet its full-year prediction of 90.3 million passengers. The airport set a record in August for the number of passengers coming through its doors in a single month but growth has slowed considerably after years of strong increases.
Many staff, including cabin crew and pilot, are likely to be offered unpaid leave during the runway closure and reduction in operations. flydubai is also expected to be similarly affected.