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Air-traffic controllers keep track of aircraft movements in the visual control room at Dubai International Airport. Stephen Lock / The National
Air-traffic controllers keep track of aircraft movements in the visual control room at Dubai International Airport. Stephen Lock / The National

Skies grow crowded in Dubai as air traffic increases 7%

The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority forecasted 375,000 aircraft movements for both Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central in 2013, rising to 665,000 in 2020.

The number of aircraft in Dubai's skies increased by more than 7 per cent in the first half of this year, the emirate's aviation authority has revealed.

The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) forecasted 375,000 aircraft movements for both Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central (DWC) in 2013, rising to 665,000 in 2020.

"A growth rate of 8.6 per cent of aircraft movement clearly suggests that Dubai International Airport and DWC are on a curve of exponential growth that will see a massive surge in aircraft movement in already-crowded skies. In the first half of 2013, the aircraft movement increased by 7.4 per cent compared with the corresponding period last year," Mohammed Ahli, the DCAA director general, wrote in the August issue of the DCAA's monthly newsletter, Via Dubai.

In 2010, aircraft movement stood at 307,283. It grew to 325,000 in 2011 and 344,656 last year.

Dubai International, the world's second-busiest airport by international passengers, is targeting 65 million passengers this year and reported last month that 32.6 million passengers had passed through in the first half of this year. Dubai is expected to overtake London's Heathrow, the world's busiest international airport, by 2015.

Passenger operations at DWC - Dubai's second international airport - begin on October 27.

The DCAA targets 20 new destinations from Dubai International this year, 22 in 2014 and 24 in 2015.

Growing congestion in the skies above the Arabian Gulf is one of the most serious problems threatening the growth of the region's aviation industry, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Aircraft are already being frequently delayed on the ground or kept flying holding patterns above the region's airports for between 40 minutes and an hour, Iata's director and chief executive, Tony Tyler, said in June.

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said last month that projections for the UAE Flight Information Region showed it would have 1.13 million flight movements by 2020 and 1.62 million aircraft movements by 2030.

The UAE airspace is among the smallest but most important in the world because of its strategic location between the East and the West.The Emirates had taken several steps to ease the congestion problem, said Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, the director-general of the GCAA.

"The first phase of the UAE Airspace enhancement programme is focused on assessing current air traffic operations and management at airports and in airspace, and to provide suitable recommendations and solutions," he said last month.

"In addition, there have been many airspace changes in 2012, such as the RNP AR project in Abu Dhabi, Dubai Airport Development Phase 1 and the launch of the Delta sector. Now, there are continuing airspace proposals due for implementation in 2013 with Bahrain and Oman," he said.

business@thenational.ae

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