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MIDDLE EAST TRAVEL ALERT

An 80-day ban on all General Aviation (GA) activity at Dubai International Airport (DXB) from May 1-July 20 while the airport’s two runways are re-surfaced is causing business jet operators to rethink their Gulf travel strategy. Some have been using Dubai’s new mega airport, Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC), since January 2012 and activity there is accelerating.

AvBuyer   |   1st January 2014
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Travelling to Dubai Next Year? Take Note…

An 80-day ban on all General Aviation (GA) activity at Dubai International Airport (DXB) from May 1-July 20 while the airport’s two runways are re-surfaced is causing business jet operators to rethink their Gulf travel strategy. Some have been using Dubai’s new mega airport, Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC), since January 2012 and activity there is accelerating.

The move to DWC has become urgent as DXB is reaching full capacity, and there is already a major slot problem for GA aircraft with none available after 08.00 until around 14.00. FBO aircraft parking is at a premium so slots must come with a space.

In the period following the DXB runway closures (August onwards), Mike Berry, MD ExecuJet Middle East, expects General Aviation to return to the International Airport but with volumes down on previous levels. “After those 80 days, and when people have become familiar with the set up in DWC, I don’t believe DXB [authorities] will want to take business aircraft back,” added Michael Rücker, the recently retired Senior VP and General Manager at Jet Aviation Dubai.

Presently movements at DWC are running at a respectable 300 per month and climbing. Handling these are Jet Aviation, ExecuJet and Jetex from the temporary General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at DWC’s Airline passenger terminal. The only company to have its own private access and purpose-built hangar facility so far is the joint venture between Germany’s DC Aviation and the UAE-based Al-Futtaim Group (branded DC Aviation Al-Futtaim).


Capable Alternatives

DWC is a more-than-adequate alternative for those visiting Dubai, particularly because it is brand new and only opened its doors to Airline passenger traffic within the last two months. It currently has one runway but when completed will have five parallel 4.9 kilometer runways and be ten times larger than the current Dubai International Airport (DXB). The airport already has vast acreages of ramp space available and is virtually slot free, making it ideal for non-scheduled operations.

While some detractors say that DWC is too far away from the center of Dubai, Ali Al Naqbi, founding chairman of the Middle East Business Aviation Association counters, “Road traffic congestion makes travelling times much the same from either airport and in fact DWC has the advantage of being closer to the Jumeira area.”


Shop Around

Undoubtedly during the runway closure at DXB, DWC will become increasingly busy and possibly stretch the FBO handling facilities and infrastructure to the limit. Some aircraft operators might find it appropriate to use Al Bateen Executive Airport, Abu Dhabi International or Sharjah International Airports during this time.

Advice to operators planning to fly into Dubai in the near future is to shop around for best value through flight planning and support companies. Check out your destination hotel and plan to arrive at the most convenient airport to it (e.g., if you are staying in the Jumeira area, Abu Dhabi Executive Airport (ADEA) could be an alternative. Drive time from ADEA to the Jumeira area is around 45 minutes and around 20/25 minutes from DWC. If your destination is downtown Dubai, Gama Aviation’s Executive Aircraft Flight Centre at Sharjah is only a 20 minute drive away with helicopter connections also available.)

 

SIDEBAR
Handling at DWC
Jet Aviation was the first to open a satellite operation from DWC’s GAT in January 2013 and has extensive FBO/Maintenance facilities at DXB.

ExecuJet, with a major investment in two FBOs and a large maintenance operation at DXB, opened at DWC in April, with JetEx opening just a few weeks ago and a fourth operation, XJet, opening soon.

Line maintenance is currently supplied by Jet Aviation and ExecuJet with roving maintenance personnel from their respective bases at DXB. Jet Aviation plans to move the whole of its FBO operation from DXB to DWC in 2015 and its total maintenance operation in 2018.

The present GAT at DWC is temporary as part of the Airline passenger terminal (which is relatively small by Dubai standards and designed to handle only seven million passengers annually). A planned larger GAT building will take two years to complete.

DC Aviation Al Futtaim (DCAF) is approximately half a mile from the GAT and offers line maintenance for Bombardier Challenger- and Global-types as well as for ACJ and Gulfsteam aircraft. The aim eventually is to offer maintenance on all aircraft types covered by DC Aviation’s Approvals in Germany.


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