Around 1,000 flights per week will have to be diverted from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Dubai’s second airport on the outskirts of the emirate because one of DXB’s two runways has to be closed for nearly two months for urgent repairs.
The closure of DXB’s northern runway is set to start on May 9 and is forecast to last for 45 days while an army of workers carry out a major renovation project which will involve replacing 160,000 tonnes of asphalt and more than 30,000 square metres of concrete.
More than 4,400 runway lights will be upgraded and 264 km of secondary cables must be replaced as part of the mammoth project. A similar refurbishment on the airport’s southern runway caused major disruption in 2019 but the work was completed ahead of schedule.
Because DXB operates as one of the busiest twin runway airports in the world there is little capacity left one of the two runways is knocked out of action for even a short period of time.
For a project of this kind, DXB simply wouldn’t be able to cope so some capacity will have to be moved to Dubai World Central airport (DWC) to the south of the city. At some point in the future, DWC will be Dubai’s main airport but at the moment the massive site has far fewer fewer facilities than DXB.
Low-cost operator flydubai has already confirmed that it will move flights to 34 destinations from DXB to DWC during the runway closure, while Spice Jet, Indigo, Qatar Airways, and Gulf Air are amongst the airlines that will operate flights out of DWC.
Emirates has not yet confirmed any plans to move flights from DXB to DWC like it did during the last runway closure but the airline may be forced to consolidate flights on routes with multiple daily services to help reduce the capacity crunch.
Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports says the timing of the works was carefully planned between high travel seasons. Eid al-Fitr is expected to end on May 3 and the work is due to be finished before the start of school summer holiday across Europe.
As well as reopening all of DWC’s onsite shops, cafes and restaurants, Griffiths also says there will be a free coach transfer between DWC and DXB that will run 24 hours a day.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.