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Dubai to delay, scale down $10bn airport project

Dubai, April 24, 2009

Dubai may delay completion of the world’s largest airport to beyond 2015 and build one runway fewer than planned, and the 2010 target date for its first flights could also be put back, the operator of the project said.

As the global economic crisis continues to eat into air traffic growth rates, Dubai Airports Company (DAC) chief executive Paul Griffiths said that phase one of the $10 billion Maktoum International Airport project, which will see it handling freight, may miss its scheduled June 2010 completion date.

The first cargo flights had initially been due to take off from the new airport in mid-2008.

DAC was considering developing facilities at Dubai’s existing airport to deal with additional traffic until the new airport opens, he said recently.

“If we can buy more time at this airport by using our facilities more effectively ... then we may have the luxury of being able to defer the opening slightly or continue to operate it on schedule,” Griffiths said, adding that a decision would be made in a couple of weeks’ time.

The existing airport is also undergoing an expansion that includes plans for a new runway to accommodate Emirates Airlines’ A380 superjumbos, of which it has ordered 58.

In April, a planned $1.3 billion deal with Australian engineering firm Leighton Holdings to build the runway was scrapped, but Griffiths said the project would go ahead and be completed on schedule at the end of 2011.

The new airport is now expected to have five active runways rather than six as initially planned, though it will be still be able to handle up to 160 million passengers as planned once fully operational, he said.

The second phase of the new airport will see it handling charter and low-cost carriers and Griffiths said that would be completed in “the second half of the next decade, from 2015 onwards”, without being more specific.-Reuters




Tags: airport | Delay | Duabi | Maktoum International Airport |

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