Major new projects to continue Al Maktoum airport expansion

Its aim is 'to improve the competitiveness of Dubai Airport, bringing service excellence, tackling some of the problems that Dubai Airport is witnessing and improving the passenger experience'.

Above, a model of Al Maktoum International Airport on display at the Airport Show 2014. Duncan Chard for the National
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The next phase of expansion at Al Maktoum International Airport is set to get under way next month with the announcement of major new infrastructure projects.

Zain Tahboub, chief adviser and director of excellence and innovation at Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP), said that it had recently completed a study with Deloitte looking at the competitiveness of the aviation sector, which came up with a series of recommendations.

Speaking at the Meed Construction Leadership Summit in Dubai, Mr Tahboub said: “Part of this calls for expanding capacity at the airport and making sure that always we avail the capacity necessary to maintain our competitive position.

“In the coming month, June, we are going to see some major projects announced and floated for tender,” he added.

The forthcoming projects will mainly be based around developing infrastructure at the new Al Maktoum airport, although Mr Tahboub said it had also been given the green light from airport chiefs to go ahead with an initiative known as SP2020-plus at Dubai International Airport.

Its aim is “to improve the competitiveness of Dubai Airport, bringing service excellence, tackling some of the problems that Dubai Airport is witnessing and improving the passenger experience”, Mr Tahboub said.

In March, DAEP announced that it had awarded a contract to increase the capacity of the passenger terminal at Al Maktoum airport to handle 27 million passengers, from its current capacity of 5 million.

The contract was awarded to Alec, which has completed several large-scale schemes for DAEP including the recently-opened Concourse D at Dubai International.

Earlier this month, Turner & Townsend was appointed as project manager for the passenger terminal expansion.

When asked about the potential for work to be carried out by public-private partnership, Mr Tahboub said that it was “open to all kinds of partnerships”, but said that it expects any potential partner to bring more to the table than an offer to fund schemes. “The core of this [Dubai’s PPP] law, it’s about partnership. It’s not about loans. It’s not about financing.”

He argued that any potential private sector partner would need to be able to demonstrate that it could help to improve productivity and efficiency for operations.

“This would be a major criteria for considering any partnership – the new partner is going to provide additional knowledge and proven capabilities,” he said.

The expansion of Al Maktoum airport will also allow Dubai’s cargo-handling capacity to treble, Mr Tahboub said – to more than 12 million tonnes a year, up from 4 million tonnes.

Speaking on the same panel, John Jones, the chief financial officer of Dubai World Trade Centre, said that it would eventually move to the Expo site at Dubai South next to the Al Maktoum airport.

“Every Expo has a legacy plan attached to it. One of the legacy plans is to allow Dubai World Trade Centre to grow in that area,” said Mr Jones. “It’s not an easy decision, because one of the privileges we have is being in the heart of Dubai, so it’s easy to get trade tourists in here. I don’t see everything moving, but to decongest some of it is for sure going to move across. And that is part of the legacy.”

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