Dubai: The opening of Al Maktoum International Airport on Sunday may not be a game changer for the aviation industry just yet but it is a sign that Dubai is not shifting in its bid to be a long-term global aviation player despite regional challenges.
The aviation industry has been largely dominated by the Gulf giants in recent years with some critics pointing to their access to a treasure chest of oil wealth. However, Kostya Zolotusky, Managing Director of Capital Markets and Leasing at Boeing Capital Cooperation recently praised the ability of Emirates and Etihad to secure funding from diverse markets in an interview with Gulf News.
The opening of Dubai’s newest airport show’s the emirate is ready for the assault from Abu Dhabi, Doha, and even Istanbul as all three cities are building new airport hubs for their strong national carriers.
John Strickland, Director at UK-based aviation advisory JLS Consultancy, said the new airport was not a game changer because of its soft opening with just two low budget carriers.
It is however a sign of Dubai’s forward thinking for the future of the emirates aviation industry.
Al Maktoum International “redoubles the UAE commitment to commercial aviation as a strategic industry, and provides a world-class international hub that is sized to accommodate the significant growth in traffic between Europe and Asia that Emirates is well positioned to attract through this new connecting hub,” Ernest S. Arvai, President of consultancy The Arvai Group, said in an email.
But with four new airports — including Al Maktoum — coming online in the near future the regional market is being flooded with infrastructure, according to David J Bentley Principal at UK-based consultancy Big Pond Aviation, said in an email. The danger of flooding the regional market is that the aviation industry is prone to external shocks such as war, sickness, oil prices, and recession.
Given the challenging environment of operating in the Gulf Bentley does agree that the time is right to open the airport because of the threat of the other carriers and hubs. He also identified the resurgence of Singapore for European and South East Asian traffic as threat to Dubai.
In other parts of the world China is also making significant investments in their aviation industry. But unlike Dubai and the Gulf networks, these investments rely on natural air traffic demand growth due to macroeconomic developments, Ivo Pezelj, Analyst & Editor at Aspire Aviation, a Hong-Kong based airline consultancy, said.