Dubai International (DXB), currently the number two international airport in the world behind London Heathrow [based on 2013 traffic], has closed one of its two runways today for a month, and has cut back traffic by -26% in order to accommodate take offs and landings on its remaining strip.
The southern runway has closed from today for what the airport calls “an extensive runway enhancement project” until the end of May. When it opens the northern runway will then close for almost two months. The two runways will effectively close consecutively during an 80-day period until 20 July.
Indian carriers – which are core to the airport’s traffic – are reported to be cutting their frequencies by over 30% as a result, with diversions planned to other airports such as Sharjah and Al Maktoum International.
CEO of operator Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths (left), says: “Some airlines have moved some flights to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC). Therefore, we are urging passengers to double-check with their respective airlines to confirm their airport of departure or arrival.”
There is expected to be a lot of confusion and disruption in the comings weeks, especially for transferring passengers who may now have to clear immigration and collect baggage if their arrival and departure airports are no longer the same. Shuttle buses are being deployed between Dubai International and DWC.
All Emirates flights will continue to operate out of DXB, but about 17 airlines, including flydubai, have reserved slots at DWC during the 80-day closure period.
Griffiths adds: “Additionally, passengers and residents in the vicinity of the airport should be prepared for extra construction-related road traffic which may increase travel times to and from Dubai International.”
Dubai International says that once the work is finished, the new runways, together with the new Concourse D – which will be home to more than 100 airlines when it opens next year – will provide world class facilities to support its growth into the next decade.
In three months to March, passenger traffic at DXB hit 18.36m, up +11.4% from the 16.48m in the first quarter of last year.