Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international passenger traffic, will close its southern runway for 45 days next year to undertake a “comprehensive upgrade”.
The airport manager said runway 12R-30L was nearing the end of its design life and required a complete resurfacing on top of the replacement of ground lighting and support infrastructure.
A similar programme was undertaken on the airport’s northern runway for an 80-day period in 2014.
The upgrade work is scheduled to take place during the historically low traffic period from April 16 to May 30.
During the closure the airport will operate from a single runway, meaning airlines airlines will be required to reduce their operations.
“Dubai Airports has provided additional advance notice to all airlines to plan for the flight reductions and schedule planning,” the airport manager said, although it did not state how many flights could be affected.
Dubai International handles roughly 1,100 aircraft movements a day and is a major connection point for international passengers. The airport saw passenger growth slow to 5.5 per cent in 2017, reaching 88.2 million, but had said it expected a return to double-digit growth in 2019/2020.
Passenger Traffic declined 2.5 per cent during May 2014, the first month of the previous closure, and home airline Emirates was forced to ground about 25 per cent of its fleet, losing $467m in revenue, according to its financial statements.
Aircraft movements for 2014 as a whole were down 3.4 per cent to 357,339 as a result of the 80-day closure.
The emirate’s second airport, Dubai World Central, will be offered as an alternative to take on the affected passenger flights, charter, cargo and general aviation services.
DWC is undergoing expansion work this year that will increase capacity from seven million passengers per year to 26 million.
“In the months ahead we will be working closely with Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, airlines and other stakeholders to ensure we optimise service and capacity during this period next year and minimise the impact on our customers,” said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.
“While we regret any inconvenience this may cause to our airline customers and our passengers, these upgrades are absolutely necessary to heighten safety, boost capacity and pave the way for future growth.”
The resurfacing work will involve 60,000 tonnes of asphalt and 8,000 cubic metres of concrete to strengthen the runway and adjacent taxiways.
The airport will also install 800km of primary cables and replace more than 5,500 runway lights with more economical and environmentally friendly technology.
“The planned closure for runway upgrading at Dubai International next year will impact operations partially, but with Dubai World Central able to take and handle flights, the upgrade process should be relatively straightforward,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.
“In the interim, there may be some flights at Emirates and flydubai, the biggest two operators at the airport, that are curtailed to keep schedules in check. But that’s still all at an exploratory stage right now.”