x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Emirates to cut fleet while Dubai airport repaired

The airline will not cancel routes, but only frequencies by reducing its fleet by 20 aircraft from May as the runway at Dubai International Airport undergoes repairs.

A decision to move Emirates Airline’s operations permanently to the new Al Maktoum Airport, above, would be a government decision, the Dubai carrier's president Tim Clark said. Karim Sahib / AFP
A decision to move Emirates Airline’s operations permanently to the new Al Maktoum Airport, above, would be a government decision, the Dubai carrier's president Tim Clark said. Karim Sahib / AFP

Emirates Airline will reduce its fleet by 20 aircraft from May as the runway at Dubai International Airport undergoes repairs.

“We will be around 20 aircraft short,” said Tim Clark, the carrier’s president. “It will have an impact on the revenue and we will have to manage that. And we are trying to fit all of this revenue, if we can, into the remaining services.”

The airline would not cancel routes, but only frequencies, he added.

The construction work will take place over 80 days from May 1 to July 20.

Airlines will be required to either reduce their operations during the period or move to Al Maktoum International Airport.

Mr Clark said May was traditionally the slowest month of the year. Then there was Ramadan in July, a slow period in the Islamic world.

“The selection of those particular months were not by accident, but by design,” he said.

“Hopefully they will have the second runway ready by July 20, because we are coming up to Eid and the Islamic world will move very forcefully in August. Everybody will be on holiday in August.”

The number of passengers using Dubai International last year grew 15.2 per cent over 2012 to 66.43 million.

Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said: “Considering more than half the flights at DXB [Dubai International Airport] is Emirates, they’ll be impacted the most.

“And that means massive financial impact. Longer waiting times on the ground, extra fuel needed, decreased potential of fuel per flight hit by extra cost of fuel.”

Lufthansa said last week that it had decided against moving its operations to the new Al Maktoum Airport during planned runway repairs at Dubai International. Instead the German airline has opted to reduce flights during the period.

Meanwhile, a decision to move Emirates Airline’s operations permanently to the new Al Maktoum Airport would be a government decision, said Mr Clark.

Separately, Mr Clark said the carrier would be taking deliveries of about 22 aircraft this year and would be raising finance for the purchase. He did not specify the amount.

selgazzar@thenational.ae