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Does Dubai need another airport?
It has the world’s tallest building, the flashiest hotel, and more artificial palm-shaped islands than anywhere else. So it was only a matter of time before Dubai built the world’s biggest airport. But is DXB 2.0 really necessary?
March 28, 2010 2:41 by Rasha Reslan
Welcome to DXB 2.0.
Dubai’s colossal new transport hub, Al Maktoum International Airport, is set to open in June – albeit for cargo flights only.
No date has been set for the launch of passenger flights, but the airport’s management is in ongoing talks with airlines over relocation to the new hub.
“The company is in advanced talks with airlines, both passenger and cargo, across the globe to start operations from the new airport,” Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports Co, told Emirates Business recently.
The fact that a concrete date has been set for the launch of cargo flights does, perhaps, reiterate the commitment to building the $820 million airport – despite the recession and the crippling debt problems that have hit Dubai.
The new airport is part of the gigantic $33 billion Dubai World Central (DWC) real estate development in Jebel Ali, some 40km from DXB. It will eventually have five runways, four passenger terminals able to accommodate 160 million arrivals a year, and 18 cargo terminals with a capacity of 12 million tons. The whole thing is expected to be completed within 15 years.
But does Dubai actually need another airport?
On paper, the prospects for growth in the region’s aviation sector – and therefore the feasibility of constructing the world’s largest airport – certainly look good.
UAE airspace is getting busier. Passenger numbers at DXB continue to rise, and the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) says that UAE air traffic movements increased by 12.7 percent in February 2010 compared to the same month the year before.
The wider Middle East aviation industry is also in relative good health. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Middle Eastern airlines saw passenger demand climb 11.3 percent in 2009, the only area in the world to report significant growth in what was a dismal year for the industry.