Abu Dhabi: Airlines operating out of Dubai International are unlikely to shift operations to Al Maktoum International next year during runway repairs, a top aviation executive has said.
Dubai International airport is scheduled for important maintenance repairs next year during the busy May to June summer European season. The repairs will shutdown one runway and decrease the airport’s capacity by 22 per cent.
Whilst Emirates and flydubai, as the largest operators at Dubai International, could take the brunt of either shifting or downsizing their operations, John Swift, Director of NATS Middle East, said a lot of carriers are not enthusiastic about the move because they are “established in the international airport” and that airlines with connecting passengers could be disrupted if other airlines didn’t shift.
Formerly National Air Traffic Services, NATS is the main air navigation service provider in the United Kingdom including to Heathrow airport and was involved in the airspace mapping for Al Maktoum International.
Airlines have already expressed their desire or intent to stay at Dubai International during the May to July period. Qantas, an Emirates codeshare partner, have previously said they intend to be flying from Dubai International during next year’s repairs.
Swift said that airlines may end up preferring to take a hit to their schedule because “in terms of overall passenger perception it may be unattractive” for the airlines who have their catering and passenger facilities already at Dubai International.
However, last month at the opening of Al Maktoum International, Dubai Airports Chief Executive Officer Paul Griffiths said the new airport would have enough capacity to cater for airlines wanting to make the shift. He also said that Dubai Airports – the management team behind Dubai International and Al Maktoum – had held discussions with several airlines about operating at Al Maktoum during the repair period.
Despite apparent apprehension on operating from the new airport by some airlines — United have recently said they had not been able to confirm their summer schedule from Dubai but expressed their desire to operate from the main airport — Al Maktoum has already secured several big carriers.
Wizz Air and Jazeera Airways have already begun flights from the new airport while Gulf Air will join them next month and Qatar Airways set to launch flights next year.