Dubai and Abu Dhabi Airports Urged to Step Up Co-operation

DUBAI — Expanding military fly zones to commercial airlines and better air traffic control are key to maximising expected growth in passenger numbers at Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports, said Dubai Airports CEO at the Airport Show 2009.

By Ibrahim Haj Hamad

Published: Thu 21 May 2009, 10:42 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 9:47 PM

Expansion underway at airports in both emirates will lead to a predicted 60 million passengers passing through Dubai International Airport by 2021 and 20 million in Abu Dhabi.

The Airport Show 2009 conference, attended by Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Airports, Rudy Vercelli, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports Company, and other airport officials, underlined the need for more co-operation, between Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports, to deal with the air transport expansion occurring in the region. The industry officials said additional flight routes were needed and could be accessed by commercial airline governing bodies and military cooperating across airspace.

“Nearly 50 per cent of the UAE airspace, which is reserved to the military for activities such as training, hinders civilian air travel,” said Robert H Everest, Vice-president of Flight Operation Support, Emirates. “This issue needs total co-operation from both, Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports, to be resolved.”

He also explained that through positive negotiation with the UAE government 400 airplanes have been travelling through UAE military airspace in the Empty Quarter per month, since last December. “This has allowed us to save 156,000kg on fuel and 492,960kg on emission.”

Dubai is building the world’s largest airport at Jebel Ali, Al Maktoum International Airport, expected to cost $10 billion. At full capacity it will cater to 160million passengers and 12million tonnes of cargo per year.

Abu Dhabi International Airport has been one of the fastest growing airports in the world, explained Vercelli. It is now servicing nine million passengers per year, up from three-and-a-half million passengers passing through the airport since it was established in 1982.

According to the International Airport Transport Association, Global passenger demand in the month of March dropped 11.1 per cent below the March 2008 level. Middle East airlines were the only carriers to experience a growth in passenger numbers, of 4.7 per cent, but the association said this was out of balance with a capacity increase of 13.1 per cent.

Nevertheless, Vercelli said: “Amidst the current global economic downturn, airports and airlines must stand together and align resources and innovation in order to meet and emerge as stronger businesses,” said Vercelli.

But on the commercial market competition between the two airports as well as their respective carriers, Everest said “Etihad and Emirates are competing in the commercial market but there are issues such as airspace, flight operation and market capacity where we previously have and will continue to work together.”


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