Airline Operators Slowly Moving to Dubai South

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Dubai-world-centralThe Dubai government is sponsoring a $3 billion finance deal for its new airport Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) which will become Dubai’s premier airport. Emirates Airline will be based there starting in 2025. Dubai will schedule 146 million passengers per year by that date.

On the commercial side DWC is focussing on cargo, logistics and business aviation.
Khalifa Al Zaffin, of Dubai Aviation City Corporation said, “Under the proposed financing arrangement, coordinated by Department of Finance for the Government of Dubai, Investment Corporation of Dubai and Dubai Aviation City Corporation, the three parties will work jointly to raise financing from various liquidity sources, both conventional and Islamic. HSBC is acting as financial advisor,” it said.


Dubai Airport DXBDubai International Airport (DXB) was the world’s largest international airport in 2015, with 78 million passengers.
“Dubai remains firmly committed to the development of the Al Maktoum International Airport [DWC] and to the growth of the global aviation sector, and this initial $3 billion transaction to support Dubai’s ambitious 2025 passenger capacity targets is testament to our belief,” said chairman of Dubai’s Supreme Fiscal Committee HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who also is chairman of Emirates.

Although it started operations in April, the new VIP Terminal is to open officially on the first day of the MEBAA show.
Until bizjet movements in Dubai as a whole exceed 20,000, only five FBO operators are expected to operate at DWC: DC Aviation Al Futtaim, Jet Aviation, ExecuJet, Jetex Flight Support and Falcon Aviation.

MEBAA’s Views

mebaa-middle east business aviation associationMEBAA chairman Ali Alnaqbi said the VIP Terminal (Dubai South) was already active at DWC
“MEBAA’s views have been clear for a long time. Business aviation likes to have confidentiality and privacy. That’s always been the case as far as operating private and business aviation is concerned,” he said.

“Dubai South [officials] have their own plans. We have to respect their wishes. They still have plans to operate more than one FBO at that terminal. Obviously there are two now and there may be room for one or two more.”

He said things were going in the right direction. “MEBAA is very supportive of Dubai South, and they are working with us. There is a plan, but plans could always change because this is a huge airport. The plans for real estate are amazing. The plans continue to change, but we have operators and they continue to come.”
Only five FBOs are be allowed for now. “There is an agreement that they will not allow more than five operators before 20,000 flights are achieved at the airport. The total number of business aviation flights at DXB and DWC is headed to 10,000. They will not issue licenses to other operators until the number of flights exceeds 20,000 a year. That is what Dubai South are saying,” he said.

execujet aviation groupMike Berry, vice president Middle East at ExecuJet Aviation Group, agreed. “That is the understanding that is out there. It makes sense. Otherwise you kill the market for companies who have invested in FBO operations. You can however have as many AOC operators as you want.”

“I am sure that in 2020 the number will increase. The Expo 2020 site is under construction now. Maybe we’ll be in a position one year from now to shed some light on how many flights there will be. We don’t know who will be booking space and who will be coming with their own aircraft. In the entire Middle East and North Africa, the expectation is that the number of flights will increase to 165-170,000 by 2020,” said Alnaqbi.

ExecuJet on DWC

ExecuJet’s Berry DWC was on the rise. “The aircraft based out of Dubai, and visiting aircraft, are getting used to using DWC. Clearly, where before everybody had reasons not to want to use it, now they realize that slots are easier and landing, parking and everything is cheaper than at DXB. It is understood that with the infrastructure that’s in place, it doesn’t take that long to get here. It’s being utilized more.”

Berry all along insisted that ExecuJet would maintain its standalone concept at Dubai South, and now operates an interim FBO, to be replaced by a long-term solution by 2018.

“Together with Jet Aviation, we’ve been the pioneers of general aviation in Dubai. We’ve been operating for over 15 years now. We took the opportunity many years ago to approach the authorities to start talking about what we wanted. We signed our first document with the predecessor to Dubai South in 2009. We wanted to replicate what we have at DXB, which is standalone,” he said.

“Ours is a comprehensive solution. While they have a great central terminal at DWC for an FBO, we want our comprehensive solution alongside our MRO, similar to other regions around the world, where we have FBO and MRO solutions cohabitating. It’s taken a long time, but we have been working very hard at getting those approvals. That’s why we’ve been going to market saying: ’We’re getting approvals; it’s coming.’ It was a long process.”

DC Aviation

Holger Ostheimer, of DC Aviation Al Futtaim, said Dubai South had progressed in the six months since EBACE 2016.
“What we have seen in the past six months is a relocation of activity from DXB to DWC. It is something that we have been waiting ever since we started operations. When we had the initial discussions with DWC, it was indicated that by October 2013, the majority of private and business aviation would have relocated. That obviously did not happen as scheduled, but it is happening right now and it provides us with an increasing number of opportunities,” he said.

“We respect everyone competing in the market here and contributing to the completion of the VIP Terminal. While the VIP Terminal is a large area, we believe that we can make a difference by providing privacy and discretion that only really this facility can offer. We seek to appeal to a consistent amount of clients that we try to increase over time.”

Empire Aviation

Paras Dhamecha, of Empire Aviation Group, believes the new airport, and its VIP facilities, compare favorably with any other new facility around the world.
“DWC is on an excellent site. The facilities will certainly help the overall experience that we are able to provide to our management customers,” he said.

“The idea of DWC is very strong. Most operators have moved to DWC and we have all but two aircraft based there already. All the feedback has been positive and this speaks volumes for the idea and vision of a VIP Terminal. There was some negative feedback from the temporary FBO facilities, which was inconvenient. DWC will be even better when the lounges of Jetex Flight Support and Falcon Aviation actually open up there.”