Emirates to relocate to Dubai World Central in ten years – a quarter century after it opened

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Dubai's World Central Airport, aka Al Maktoum after the ruling family there, has lain in the desert to the south of Dubai for 14 years since it opened, apparently unloved by all but a handful of minor scheduled and charter airlines. These are mainly from Russia and east-central Europe - cargo carriers, and the endless succession of business and private jets bringing wealthy visitors to the 'World Capital of Bling'.

It wasn't supposed to be like that, with projections of 260 million passengers passing through the airport each year when it took over from Dubai International (DXB); but various circumstances proscribed against it, and in its best year to date (2019) it handled a mere 1.6 million passengers.

It is hardly surprising that it acquired the metaphor 'white elephant'.

But, finally, all that looks set to change. Emirates Airline, the largest airline by far at DXB, has notified its intention to move lock, stock and barrel to DWC just as its rival Turkish Airlines did to a new airport in Istanbul in 2018-2019.

DXB was struggling to handle its existing level of traffic, never mind to expand for the future, and has had to be very innovative with technology accordingly. Then along came the floods in Apr-2024, which underlined starkly the paucity of alternative infrastructure.

But if a week is a long time in politics, 10 years might as well be light years in the air transport business, and by the time DWC is fully functioning - at a cost of USD35 billion, which would have been lower had there been better long term planning earlier - the shape of aviation in and around the Gulf region might look very different from what it does today.

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This article was written on 11-May-2024.