Opened in late October 2013, Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai’s mega business city, Dubai World Central has underwhelmed the aviation world in its first twelve months.
Touted as the world’s biggest construction project, ultimately to be the world’s busiest airport serving over 160m passengers, it has limped to a yearly total not even reaching the 1 million mark, ranking it alongside Exeter
Airports in the UK in terms of passenger numbers.
Local concerns over its success, or lack of it, have even led to rumours that the Purple train route, linking it to Dubai International Airport
and currently on hold, may be scrapped indefinitely. The current situation is a far cry from the early days of hope and hype but are things really that bad?
Al Maktoum’s success has been hit by the continuing success of Dubai International Airport whose passenger number growth has outstripped that of the top five airports in the world, allowing it to dream of the top spot within the next two to three years. Many airlines were expected to move to Al Maktoum but the proximity of Dubai International to the city, combined with poor take up of the business, residential and entertainment facilities at Dubai World Central have caused progress to stagnate.
The good news for Al Maktoum is that the continuing growth at Dubai International is unsustainable in terms of capacity and soon several of the airlines using it will have to make the decision to move. It’s felt it will only take one major airline to make the move and others will follow. For now though, it’s the home of budget or second string airlines; not what was expected when it first opened.
The airline is scoring great success though and that’s in the area of cargo handling where traffic is currently five times that of the passenger facility.
Al Maktoum was designed as an airport of the future and the more positive amongst analysts say its dream will eventually become the reality. All projections show that, worldwide, air traffic will increase dramatically in the next decade and the Middle East and China will see the major part of that. The Expo at Dubai 2020 will be the turning point for the airport which is due for final completion three years before. Until then, Al Maktoum may have to wait patiently to step out of the shadow of Dubai International Airport.