In Focus | Dubai Airshow 2013

Runway repairs force Royal Brunei to fly from Al Maktoum

Mannion said that each airline at Dubai International had been asked to move half of its operations to Dubai’s secondary airport located in Dubai World Central

  • By Alexander Cornwell, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 18:40 November 18, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Dermot Mannion, Deputy Chairman, Royal Brunei, at the Dubai Airshow Show 2013 at Dubai World Central, Dubai. Photo

Dubai: Southeast Asian airline Royal Brunei will move part of its operations to Al Maktoum International next year during runway repairs at Dubai International, a top executive at the airline said.

Dermot Mannion, Deputy Chairman of Royal Brunei, said on Monday that moving half of its operations to the new airport would cause “certain operation difficulty” for the airline.

Mannion was speaking to media onboard one of the airlines new 787 Dreamliners. Royal Brunei recently took delivery of two 787 Dreamliners as part of a wide order for five of the aircraft.

Mannion said that each airline at Dubai International had been asked to move half of its operations to Dubai’s secondary airport located in Dubai World Central.

Runway repairs at Dubai International beginning next May will reduce capacity at the airport for up to eight weks. In a previously published international document, Dubai Airports, the operator of Dubai International and Al Maktoum, suggested use the secondary airport or scaling back of operations.

Between May and June next year, Royal Brunei flights from Brunei to London via Dubai will land and take off from Al Maktoum International. The London to Brunei via Dubai route will use Dubai International.

While Mannion admitted the move could be difficult, he said that it was manageable for the eight- week period.

The two airports are expected to be self-contained with flights into Al Maktoum only connecting with other airlines at the airport, he said.

“What you’re seeing in Dubai is the beginning of a two airport strategy … but they will be two independent airports in my sense,” Mannion said.

Royal Brunei Airlines have undergone a consolidation process in recent years, which saw the airline cut routes into Australia and New Zealand.

Mannion said the airline, owned by the Brunei government, was “excessively competing” with the Gulf carriers on these routes.

Under consolidation and subsequent revamp, Royal Brunei has ordered five 787 Dreamliners. It has already received two, will take delivery of a further two by February next year, and the fifth at a later date, Mannion said.

The airline will also order next generation single-aisle aircraft to compete in the lucrative South Asian market. Mannion said Royal Brunei is in discussions with Airbus for the A320neo and Boeing for the 737max. He said the order will take its narrow body fleet from six aircraft to “double digits.”

While Mannion said an alliance partnership was not necessary for the airline to achieve its growth targets, he said he would not rule it out.

 

Attractive option

He said the Royal Brunei’s 787 Dreamliner fleet would make it an attractive option for some airlines.

But Royal Brunei has had its own set of trouble. After cutting selected routes, its staff levels dropped by 25 per cent to 1,500.

Mannion said the airline had its own targets and would compete with regional low cost and full service airlines in the South Asian market. JetStar and Air Asia have substantial market share throughout Asia.

“We are confident that without any further splitting of the business, we can compete very well with full service and low cost on long haul and short,” Mannion said ruling out the chance of a low-cost subsidary.

Mannion said the overall strategy was to develop Brunei into a regional hub for South Asia with plans to reach destinations in South India and in North Asia, including Japan and South Korea.

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