Emirates and flydubai could use the same terminal at Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travellers, after expanding their commercial relationship earlier this year, the head of the airport operator said.
Emirates, the Middle East’s largest airline, exclusively uses Terminal 3 with the exception of some Qantas flights which will end next year. Budget airline flydubai shares Terminal 2, on the other side of the airport, with other carriers.
Proposals to improve connections for passengers between the two airlines are under consideration, including whether it’s feasible for them to operate out of Terminal 3.
“We need to make a strategic decision about how the traffic distribution will work,” Dubai Airports Chief Executive Paul Griffiths told Reuters on Thursday in an interview in Dubai. “Then we need to move quickly into a design and construction phase to build whatever facilities are necessary for that, or adapt existing facilities around the new business model.”
Emirates and flydubai agreed in July to coordinate on network planning, schedules and frequent flyer programmes, and said they would align airport systems and operations, but did not say how that would happen.
“What we are trying to do is see if we can get some sort of operating model established with them that will mean the infrastructure is shared on a more operational basis” Griffiths said.
A flydubai spokeswoman confirmed talks on how to improve passenger connectivity were underway. Emirates declined to comment.
Emirates, flydubai, and Dubai Airports are owned by the government of Dubai.
“We’ve got a series of proposals which hopefully before the end of the month will be evaluated and agreed,” Griffiths said.
Emirates and flydubai are managed independently despite the shared ownership and, as of July, operated a fleet of 317 aircraft to 216 destinations between them.
The airlines operate different aircraft. Emirates only flies widebody Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, while flydubai has an exclusive fleet of narrowbody Boeing 737s.
The combined fleet will expand to 380 aircraft flying to 240 destinations by 2022, the airlines said in July.
Moving flydubai’s operations to Terminal 1, located alongside Terminal 3, is also being looked at, and the final solution could be a hybrid of the proposals under consideration, Griffiths said.
Terminal 1 is used by foreign airlines, including British Airways, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines.