Dubai Airports May Postpone Opening Al-Maktoum Terminal to Passengers

Dubai Airports may delay opening Al- Maktoum International Airport to passengers by “months” as the state-owned terminal and runway operator studies the project’s progress, Chief Executive Officer Paul Griffiths said.

“We’re going to review the passenger-terminal capacity and state of construction in a couple of months’ time and we’ll be looking at a new date,” Griffiths said at a press conference today in the emirate. “We’re talking months. We’re not talking a huge amount of time.”

Passenger operations at Dubai World Central-Al-Maktoum International, which opened to cargo carriers in June, were scheduled to start in March 2011. The government-funded project is aimed at setting up the world’s busiest airport, with eventual capacity for 160 million travelers. Emirates, the biggest Arab airline, aims eventually to shift its base to Al- Maktoum from the existing Dubai International Airport.

Aviation generates as much as 25 percent of Dubai’s economy, Griffiths estimated in January.

The airport operator has set a target of 2018 to expand Dubai International’s capacity to 90 million passengers a year “as the growth here is going to be very strong,” Griffiths said today. “It will take the pressure off us having to complete Al-Maktoum in the time scale we were looking at.” The current 60 million-traveler capacity will rise to 75 million when a third concourse opens at the end of 2012, he said.

Dubai International is located about 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of downtown Dubai, while Al-Maktoum is sited 35 kilometers southwest of the city center. Traffic at Dubai International increased 15 percent to 4.01 million passengers in October, the airport operator said on Nov. 24.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stefania Bianchi in Dubai at sbianchi10@bloomberg.net; Glen Carey in Riyadh at gcarey8@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Inal Ersan at iersan@bloomberg.net.

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