Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport on Oct. 27 formally started passenger operations with the arrival of low-fare flights by Wizz Air.
The inaugural flight to Al Maktoum Airport—which is part of the Dubai World Central (DWC) complex—was a Wizz Air flight from Budapest. The low-cost carrier is one of three airlines which have signed up to use the airport, located 40 km (25 mi.) southwest of Dubai.
The facility has been open for freight traffic since June 2010, and was licensed to begin passenger operations by the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) on Sept. 17. Wizz Air will be the sole passenger operator at the airport until Oct. 31, when it will be joined by Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways, which will have flights twice weekly.
Bahrain-based Gulf Air will start daily operations to Al Maktoum on Dec. 8. Both airlines will continue their regular operations into Dubai International Airport.
Dubai Airports says it is in discussions with a number of other interested carriers about using the facility, which has growth plans to expand to five runways with an annual capacity of 160 million passengers. The current terminal has 64 remote aircraft stands and has capacity for up to seven million passengers per year, and is seen as a lower-cost gateway into the city, although some critics argue that the airport is underserved by public transport and is too far away from the center of Dubai.
DWC is being offered by Dubai Airports as alternative point of entry for flights into Dubai when Dubai International closes one of its runways next year for 80 days, starting May 1, 2014. The airport’s northern runway is close to the end of its design life and will be re-surfaced. Airport authorities are taking this opportunity to make other improvements, including new entry and exit taxiways on both runways.
Some 50% of the required reduction in operations will come from Emirates Airline and low-fare carrier FlyDubai, which will reduce their combined total operations by 22%. Dubai Airports says it will not be charging landing fees at DWC during the period of Dubai International’s closure for airlines that had already gained rights for the International Air Transport Association’s Summer 2013 season.