Dubai is in the middle of building a giant economic zone, called the Dubai World Central. At the center of the project is Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), which will be the largest airport in the world once completed. Once finished, the airport will have 5 runways and can handle 160 million passengers a year. Currently, only a few airlines operate passenger service out of Al Maktoum airport (DWC). But more and more airlines are moving or starting operations there, and the passenger traffic is increasing.
Emirates currently operate passenger service only from Dubai International Airport (DXB), but their cargo service flies a number of routes to DWC. Apparently, that might be changing over the next decade. Speaking at the Dubai Investment Forum yesterday, Dubai Aviation City Corporation executive chairman Khalifa Al Zaffin said Emirates will move its operation to DWC by 2025.
An Emirates spokesperson semi-confirmed the move to Khaleej Times, though didn’t mention a specific date:
Maktoum International Airport is being developed to cater to the future aviation and logistics needs of Dubai. There is no doubt that the new airport will play an increasingly important role in the long-term. Emirates has not officially announced any dates for the shift of operations but we are aiming to move by the middle of the next decade.
Emirates is currently responsible for 65% of passenger traffic at DXB, so this move will have huge implications. Flydubai, a government-owned low cost carrier, started splitting its operation between DXB and DWC last year, and will likely shift its base entirely by 2017. DWC airport hopes to increase its capacity to 120 million passengers a year by the time Emirates moves there. As reference, DXB can currently handle 90 million passengers, but an expansion project will increase capacity to 118 million by 2023.
This is obviously a move that will take a lot of planning, and will have big implications on the future of the Dubai airports. In the mean time, Emirates is still actively improving on their offerings at DXB. I will be interested to see how this plan pans out over the next few years though!
(HT Aviation Pros)