Exclusive: Transit Airlines Won’t Make Dubai World Central Move Until 2025

Airlines are expected to follow Emirates to DWC when growth requirements are met.

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths

The bulk of carriers that rely on transfer traffic are expected to avoid moving operations from Dubai International (DXB) to Dubai World Central (DWC) until 2025, according to the CEO of Dubai Airports.

Paul Griffiths, told Gulf Business that the emirate’s newest airport and Dubai International had not been designed for transferring passengers between the two.

As a result he does not expect those with a primary transit requirement to make the move until flagship carrier Emirates Airlines does in the middle of the next decade.

“Most carriers that rely on the hub concept are likely to remain at Dubai International until we’ve built sufficient capacity to allow the Emirates operation to move from DXB to DWC. When we’ve constructed an airport of at least 120 million passengers to enable them the room to grow,” he said.

Griffiths also stressed that Dubai Airports will not be looking to expand DWC too quickly.

“As the airport grows we’re not over investing too early in new infrastructure,” he said, adding that any new expansions could be brought into service within 18 months.

The Dubai Airports CEO said he expected positive growth this year for Dubai International passenger numbers despite an extensive runway maintenance programme.

Dubai International overtook London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers from December 2013 to February 2014, with 18 million passengers compared to 14.9 million at Heathrow.

However, 80 days of runway maintenance and repair is expected to reduce flight numbers at DXB by 26 per cent.

“We’ve had some very good figures for the first three months and obviously the 80 day closure period will have an impact but we will plan to end up in positive growth territory by the end of the year, so I’m not unduly worried about the growth situation,” said Griffiths.

He added that when DXB had exceeded Heathrow for 12 months it would be announced but described the achievement as a “hollow milestone.”

“My view is that is a numeric consequence of growth, the intelligence really will come in our challenge to maintain our service levels as we get busier and busier.”

Griffiths said he was not concerned that the opening of the long delayed Hamad International Airport in Doha would impact Dubai’s international passenger numbers.

“With Doha having the same strategy as we do and that is joining 260 cities around the globe, we only need a tiny proportion of market share from each of those cities to be able to satisfy all of the capacity that we’ve put on,” he said.

“Similarly the Qatari’s only need a very small percentage of the total global market share to make their airport successful. So no I’m not at all concerned about competition. In a way it will add to the critical mass of the Middle East as a point of global connectivity and I don’t think that’s bad for any airport or airline in this part of the world.”