Dubai’s Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) Suspends Its Expansion Plans

Longtime readers will remember how we reported on Sri Lanka’s insane $200 million (USD) empty airport.

And it looks like that Dubai’s new Al Maktoum International Airport might suffer the same fate.

The story so far

Also known as Dubai World Central Airport, Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), has been heralded as the latest and greatest airport in the middle east.

Dubai world central hub
The DWC is conveniently located near the cost and just 45 minutes from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Built on the south side of the city, in the fast-growing area colloquially referred to as “new Dubai”, lies DWC (Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport). The airport is at the heart of an entire airport city offering passengers and visitors all the travel and logistics services they could ever need. Although this ‘city’ is very much under construction and a few years away from being a true metropolis. The airport opened to cargo operations on June 27, 2010. It’s been open for passenger flights since October 2013.

Al Maktoum International is currently only the second-largest airport in Dubai. Until it’s fully realized, Dubai International Airport (DXB) will remain the larger of the two.

The total cost of the whole project is around $36 Billion USD.

Officials said previously that the airport would be up and running by 2025 and would be able to handle 130 million passengers a year. It was even rumored to be the new home hub of a combined Emirates and Etihad fleet (If the merger goes ahead).

Emirates fleet in Dubai.

Fly Dubai has already made plans to move their hub there, but the other airlines in the region have been more reluctant.

However, things are not going so well for the airport. This year alone, despite having more passenger numbers per plane, they have had fewer flights landing there (down 12.5%) and overall 6.7% less foot traffic.

What is happening in Dubai?

Dubai is currently undergoing a bit of a stalled economy. It would be disingenuous to suggest a slump, but so far this year their stock market has fallen 13% and their real estate market dropped 15% since 2014.

The new word on the street is that the airport will remain closed until 2030, which at the time of publishing (If your reading this in the future) is 12 years away. Construction projects are delayed all the time (Looking at you Boeing 777X) but to push back an airports expansion opening by five years is troubling to say the lease.

It’s been confirmed the airports’ expansion has been suspended after the second stage of financing for the project was ‘delayed’ indefinitely. –

The government (Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects) has said that they are still committed to the project, and have thus ‘proven’ this with a tender going out for the main terminal substructure. This would be the largest part of the tender to date and would be the most spent so far.

It might be easy to see the huge logistical and political problems with building a new airport (As opposed to simply expanding an existing one) but solving them is another problem entirely. It remains to be seen what the Dubai government will do.

Dubai Airports has not commented directly on the delay, but told Reuters that its aim was to “continuously” update masterplans for Al Maktoum International and main airport Dubai International “to embrace the latest thinking in technology, processes and customer-friendly service design principles”.