Emirates, the No. 1 international airline, won’t be asked to move to Dubai’s new superhub until 2024, avoiding disruption to its growth as it takes delivery of the world’s biggest fleet of wide-body jets.
The sheikdom’s Al-Maktoum airport, which opened in October and is targeting a capacity of 228 million passengers at a cost of 156.8 billion dirhams ($43 billion), should instead become an interim base for local low-cost carrier FlyDubai, according to the preferred scenario of a government-sponsored strategy study obtained by Bloomberg News.
The plan would see FlyDubai transfer to Al-Maktoum from Dubai International airport next year, before making the switch in reverse in a decade’s time, the document suggests.
That would allow Emirates to expand its current base at Dubai International for the maximum possible period, after earlier plans envisaged a move to the new superhub as early as 2020.
The masterplan is still under discussion and has yet to be approved, a Dubai Airports spokesman said.
The 62-page study from Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, a government body tasked with overseeing infrastructure work, suggests the territory’s airports will attract about 103 million passengers by 2020, compared with 66 million last year, rising to 167 million in 2030 and a possible 222 million by 2045.
Dubai International alone would be unable to absorb the projected increase in passengers beyond 2018, the report says.
Emirates anticipates that its annual passenger count will reach 70 million by 2020.
Founded in 1985, the carrier has a fleet of more than 200 aircraft, 44 of them A380 superjumbos, plus almost 400 jets on order worth $160 billion at list prices.
The fledgling Al-Maktoum site’s sole passenger terminal currently has capacity for 7 million people, increasing to about 10 million next year to permit the move by Fly Dubai and some foreign carriers, and reaching 20 million in 2018 or 2019.
After 2024 Fly Dubai will have the option of moving all flights back to Dubai International or keeping some at the Al-Maktoum terminal and operating a split-base model.