Complex Made Simple

DXB to close runway. How will this impact its 8 million passengers per month?

There is no stopping passenger traffic at Dubai International DXB, as passenger traffic nearly reaches 8 million in January, according to a recently published Dubai Airports traffic report.

DXB welcomed a total of 7,960,146 passengers compared to 8,037,008 recorded in January 2017 when passenger volumes were boosted due to Chinese New Year which fell in February this year.

South America was the top region in terms of percentage growth during the month (22.6%), followed by CIS (19.7%) and Africa (6.4%) propelled by the launch of new services by Med View and Emirates on routes to Abuja and doubling of Emirates’ services to Lagos.

London was the top destination city with 333,286 passengers, followed by Kuwait (231,956 passengers), and Mumbai (225,776 passengers).

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“Despite the 1% reduction in January 2018 traffic over the same period a year ago, that Dubai International airport still managed to handle almost 8m passengers at the start of the year demonstrates that even without events like the Chinese New Year, the airport is still adept to pulling in traffic,” said Saj Ahmad Chief Analyst – StrategicAero Research.

“This is supported by the fact that there has been a 1% rise in the average number of passengers per flight, which in turn infers that the two biggest airlines operating out of Dubai International in Emirates and flydubai are catering with fuller cabin loads thanks to their organic expansion strategies.”

The average number of passengers per flight remained high at 232 during the month.

Saj added that going forward, and with the fasting month of Ramadan arriving earlier this year, there is a higher chance that the summer season will bring much higher traffic.

Read: Dubai airports to set passenger records for 2017, with October best

Planned runway closure

Dubai Airports confirmed plans to close Dubai International’s (DXB) southern runway for a 45-day period in 2019, from April 16, to May 30, to conduct a comprehensive upgrade designed to boost safety, service and capacity levels.

DXB operates 24/7, 365 days per year with over 1,100 aircraft movements per day featuring predominantly wide-body aircraft.

“DXB’s southern runway (12R-30L) which is nearing the end of its design life and requires complete resurfacing and replacement of the airfield ground lighting and supporting infrastructure,” the statement said.

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, explained Ahmed.

“Given that the airport has already undergone maintenance like this before, the knowledge, experience and flight management will help to offset delays while allowing the northern runway to pick up the slack,” Ahmed added.

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The southern runway refurbishment project will involve the placement of approximately 60,000 tons of asphalt and 8,000m3 of concrete to strengthen and resurface the runway and the adjacent taxiways.

Dubai Airports will also use the opportunity to install 800 km of primary cables and replace over 5,500 runway lights with more modern, economic and environmentally friendly technology.

“During the closure period, airlines will be required to reduce their operations to DXB due to the significant capacity reduction resulting from single runway operations,” added the statement.

Dubai World Central (DWC) will be an available alternative to absorb affected scheduled flights as well as charter, cargo and general aviation operations.

DWC is currently undergoing the completion of an expansion program that will boost its capacity from 5-7 million passengers per year to 26 million passengers per year.

“The extensive use of widebodies airplanes at Dubai International is no surprise given that it’s the world’s busiest international gateway. But those large airplanes taking off and landing constantly wears down the runway surface faster too,” said Ahmed.

“This is why expanding Dubai World Central much more quickly will become a key focus – it’s planned capacity will allow much better spread of operations over its five runways when it’s fully complete.”