Emirates, the world's biggest long-haul airline, is to build a $950 million engineering facility at Dubai World Central, aimed at supporting its future growth and the wider Middle East's robust aviation sector.
The one million square metre complex is expected to boost Dubai's economy by attracting key players in the global aviation industry to the emirate and create thousands of skilled technical jobs, the company said at the Dubai Airshow on Tuesday.
The facility, which Emirates describes as the “largest and most advanced of its kind to be operated by any airline”, will be equipped to handle the full range of specialist aircraft engineering services.
This includes routine aircraft checks, maintenance programmes and engine repair and testing, to bespoke paint jobs, full cabin interior fit-outs and aircraft conversions.
“The new facility will enable Emirates to be entirely self-sufficient when it comes to maintenance, repairs, overhaul and all engineering requirements for our aircraft fleet,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline Group, said.
“It gives us operational stability and flexibility, and quality assurance. This significant investment signals our confidence in the future growth of Emirates and the aviation sector.”
Emirates is increasing its operations amid the resurgence in the global aviation industry, which was severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The sector has rebounded after economies opened up and travel curbs were lifted, prompting airlines to scale up their operations to meet heightened demand.
Global passenger traffic rebounded to 97.3 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels in September, the International Air Transport Association reported last week.
Emirates also posted a record profit in the first half of its 2023 fiscal year on the back of strong international travel demand.
Profit stood at Dh9.4 billion ($2.6 billion) in the April to September period, up 135 per cent from the same period last year, the airline reported last week.
During the period, Emirates carried about 26.1 million passengers – up 31 per cent year-on-year.
To meet growing demand, the airline ramped up capacity in the first half of the financial year by resuming its Airbus A380 operations to Bali, Beijing, Birmingham, Casablanca, Nice, Shanghai and Taipei.
Emirates doubled down on its growth strategy by placing an order for 95 additional Boeing 777X jets and Boeing 787 Dreamliners, valued at $52 billion at list prices, at the Dubai Airshow on Monday. This is part of its fleet replacement and growth programme.
The new engineering complex is being purpose-built to support Emirates’ aircraft fleet and operating requirements into the 2040s, Emirates said.
Construction on the first phase is expected to begin in 2024 and be completed in 2027. That will include eight maintenance hangars and one paint hangar that will be capable of servicing aircraft sizes up to Code F – the likes of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787-8.
Spare capacity will potentially be offered to other airline operators as well, it added.
It will also involve the delivery of an engine run-up facility, around 20 support workshops, storage facilities and administration offices, said Emirates.
“Provisions have been made for further expansion, potentially doubling the capacity in Phase 2, in line with Emirates’ fleet growth and operational requirements,” said Ali Mubarak Al Soori, group executive vice president for facilities, projects management and group procurement and supply chain.
“The new Emirates engineering complex will also incorporate sustainability into its design.”
The existing Emirates Engineering Centre at Dubai International Airport will continue to support the airline’s operations, with the new complex at DWC initially handling spillover work and heavy maintenance programmes with longer aircraft ground time, Emirates said.