DUBAI: Dubai International could close in the coming decades as the Dubai government steps up its investment in future super-hub Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), said Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports chief executive officer, by phone on Monday.
The Dubai government has so far decided to keep Dubai International open. But the two-airport model could change in twenty to thirty years time, Griffiths said, when Dubai International will require new investment.
Griffiths said closing Dubai International “may be a sensible option” given the value of the land it sits on and that the money could “be best used for DWC.”
“The government may decide to close Dubai International and consolidate to one mega airport,” he said.
John Strickland, Director of UK-based JLS Consulting, said “logically it would be better to optimise on one large airport in the form of Dubai World Central.”
“It has room to grow unlike Dubai international which is constrained by its urban location. From Emirates’ point of view its hub business model requires that all its activity is concentrated at one airport so this would be coherent from that perspective too,” he said.
Nevertheless, Dubai Airports is still investing in Dubai International — through May and July the airport underwent 80 days of runway refurbishment work and next year Concourse D will open.
“The decision to keep to Dubai International open and the asset to be recouped is a sensible one,” Griffiths said.
Dubai Airports, the state-owned airport owner and operator, announced on Monday that His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has endorsed the $32 billion (Dh117.5 billion) development of the airport at DWC.
The new airport, which will handle as many as 220 million passengers a year once complete, will one day replace Dubai International as the emirate’s primary airport. Dubai Airports expects Dubai International to reached capacity by the end of 2020 when it is expected to handle 100 million passengers.
Last year, Dubai International handled more than 66.4 million passengers, a 15.2 per cent annual growth.