Emirates’ operations will be impacted next year by the three-month closure of one of Dubai’s two runways, forcing the airline to temporarily ground more than 20 aircraft.
“The runway closure runs from 1 May to 20 July,” says Emirates Airline president Tim Clark. “It will give us a big dent in our revenue and other bits and pieces.”
Emirates originally envisaged that the disruption would require it to ground 33 aircraft, says Clark. “But we’ve gradually brought that down as the field efficiencies have been improved. It’s now in the region of 20-plus aircraft.”
The closure initially affects the southern runway, which will be resurfaced over a three-week period. Once that is completed the northern runway will be “dug up to have new surfaces, drainage, lighting, high-speed turn-offs and so on”, Clark says.
He adds that the airport’s runway maintenance programme will be “a 10-year cycle”.
The alternative to the three-month closure was a proposed nightly shutdown lasting four years, from 23:00 to 06:00. “The three-month option was a no-brainer,” says Clark.
Emirates is due to take delivery of around 18 new aircraft next year – a mix of A380s and Boeing 777-300ERs – but it will also begin its fleet roll-over with the planned phase-out of 14 older Airbus A330s and A340s. “So the net gain [in fleet size] next year should be around four aircraft,” says Clark.