Dubai: Airlines have been spoilt for choices over where they will operate from during the Dubai International runway repair works that start in May. Some have chosen to test-drive Dubai’s newest airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central, while others have opted to head to Sharjah International.
Philippine Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei and flydubai are some of the airlines which have confirmed operations from Al Maktoum International. Whereas Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Cebu Pacific will operate from Sharjah International.
Dubai Airports previously said that it is providing free landing for passenger airlines and free parking for up to six hours for airlines moving to Al Maktoum International during the 80-day period.
However, Sharjah International, which is roughly 20 kilometres from Dubai International, is proving more feasible for some airlines.
“Jet Airways has an existing base in Sharjah, thus for convenience of our guests, select flights to Dubai will now operate to Sharjah,” an airline spokesperson stated.
SpiceJet, which could not be reached for the comment, also has an existing base in Sharjah.
Al Maktoum International, meanwhile, is roughly 65 kilometres south of Dubai International.
Earlier this week, Adel Ali, Group chief executive of Sharjah-based budget carrier, Air Arabia, said travellers in the Gulf are spoilt for choices when it comes to airports, which he said, have some of the world’s best infrastructure.
A shift to Al Maktoum International could provide airlines with a preview of what it will be like to operate from the airport. It opened to passenger traffic in late 2013. And Wizz Air, Gulf Air, Jazeera Airways and Qatar Airways all operate regular services out of the airport.
The airport’s current capacity is 5 to 7 million passengers a year and will be expanded over the next six years to 160 million as Dubai bids to become a super aviation hub.
Dubai International has said it will cut 26 per cent of flights from May 1 until July 20 when scheduled runway repairs take place.
All airlines have so far said they will shift their operations back to Dubai International once the runway repair work is complete.
International logistics company, DHL Express, previously said it will keep its daily service slot at Dubai International; however, its joint-venture Aerologic will temporarily shift its twice-daily flights to Sharjah.
FedEx has said that it will split its operations between Dubai International and Al Maktoum International.