Shaikh Ahmed: Dubai International will stay to meet growth
Emirates Chairman defends its decision not to move the planes to Al Maktoum International Airport during the 80-day period.
Despite estimated revenue hits of Dh1 billion following the grounding of several Emirates aircraft during runway works at Dubai International Airport, the airline’s Chairman has defended its decision not to move the planes to Al Maktoum International Airport during the 80-day period.
“At the moment, the Emirates’ model is in one place. Al Maktoum International, with the existing terminal today, does not have aerobridges, so with Emirates operating larger aircraft it would be difficult to run operations on this site,” Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said on Tuesday.
With about 10 per cent of Emirates’ commercial jets grounded, upgrade works at the airport began on May 1 with runways being closed alternatively — the southern runway from May 1 to May 31, and the northern runway from May 31 to July 20.
During a round table discussion on day two of the Arabian Travel Market, Shaikh Ahmed said the new airport was not fully equipped to take on the airline larger fleet at present and said the huge dent on revenue was unavoidable as the airline was not willing to compromise on safety.
“Sometimes you have to accept these things. This is not something that happens to Emirates every one or two years, it is happening for the first time after more than 20 years, so we accept it and move on.”
And in regards to when Emirates will make its imminent move over to Dubai World Central’s (DWC) Al Maktoum International, Shaikh Ahmed said preparations are still ongoing.
“I think when the facility is ready for Emirates to have its terminal, to take on its capacity, we will move.”
From the time on-ground construction works begin on the terminal, Shaikh Ahmed said it will take between five to seven years to finish the project, but was unable to clarify a specific start or completion date during the meeting.
He added that once the transition of all airline operations to DWC is finalised, Dubai International will still run as an airport.
“You have to think down the road as to what the capacity in Dubai will be at that time. The site will not be sold on for anything else. Dubai will always operate two airports in parallel with each other.”
Hopeful that Dubai will meet its target of 20 million visitors by 2020, Shaikh Ahmed said the city’s infrastructure is well geared up for the influx, with the implantation of three and four star hotels supporting this target.
“I don’t think we will have an issue reaching this figure.”
When asked how the airline is addressing the issue of crowding in the sky, Shaikh Ahmed said the key is to look to the future and intercept any future problems around the whole region.
“Safety is something that you cannot compromise on. We are working very closely on a federal level with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to look at re-planning the FIR air traffic movement in the UAE, and the region.”
He also said the addition of more airlines in the region has not stunted Emirates’ growth.
“If we had any doubt about air crowding affecting future ventures, we would not have made such large volumes of orders over the past few years.”
Today marks the penultimate day of the 21st edition of ATM. Noted as the largest ever travel trade show in the region, doors will be open from 10am-6pm daily at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.