Dubai’s airport planners have delayed construction of the Phase Two Midfield Terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) for five years, as apparent difficulties in raising finance and sluggish scheduled airline traffic continue to dog the airport’s immediate future.
Delays to DWC’s expansion largely result from the runaway success of Dubai International (DXB), which, after carrying 78 million passengers, became the world's busiest international airport in 2015. Now, plans call for new “efficiencies” to increase capacity at DXB to around 120 million a year within five years. Dubai Airports had said expansion of DXB’s Terminal 3 constituted “part of the DXB Plus expansion program that aims to increase the airport’s capacity to 118 million passengers per year by 2023 without building any additional major infrastructure.”
An official statement carried on the website of the Dubai government media office on October 18 announced the recent launch of the substructure package tender by Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP) for Al Maktoum Airport. “This package forms the biggest single-value contract issued to date for Al Maktoum International’s future airport,” the statement said, without mentioning contract value.
DAEP has said it expects DWC to become the biggest airport in the world, accommodating 130 million passengers a year when the second phase of expansion finishes in 2030. The reference represents a slippage of five years on the original target date for the transfer of Emirates operations to DWC, announced in 2016.
Earlier plans presented five years ago had called for a phased transition to DWC, starting in 2018, when DXB hit capacity of 90 million, culminating in the complete transfer of Emirates' operations to the new airport in Dubai South in 2025.
In November 2016 Dubai's Department of Finance said it would sponsor a proposed $3 billion financing transaction that would pave the way for a level of expansion of DWC to meet a passenger traffic target of 146 million by 2025. Ultimate plans envisioned final DWC capacity of over 260 million passengers a year, it said.
Apart from construction delays involving the existing passenger terminal building, the thorny issue of optimizing the operations of Flydubai, Dubai's successful low-cost carrier, has also complicated the DWC transition. Last year, Emirates announced a code-share agreement with the airline that has made the transfer of Flydubai flights to DWC likely to involve a loss of connectivity with Emirates, something the authorities, as well as connecting passengers, would not want.
Plans to refurbish runways at DXB during a six-week period next spring will see Flydubai flights to 38 destinations temporarily transferred to DWC.
Dubai Airports announced on Wednesday that Russian flag carrier Aeroflot would launch regular flights between Moscow Sheremetyevo and DWC, the airline’s second destination in the UAE.
“Flights to and from DWC, which is easily accessible from the most popular resorts and busiest commercial centers of the city, give passengers additional options for getting in and out of Dubai. Russia’s flag carrier this winter will continue to operate services from Moscow to Dubai International, bringing the total number of flights per week on Moscow-Dubai routes to 28,” it said.