Dubai negotiating airport export credit terms

19 December 2016

Contractor funding still preferred for recently-awarded contracts

The Dubai Aviation City Corporation (DACC) has accepted the funding offer from the UK Export Finance for the expansion of the Al-Maktoum International airport.

“We are currently negotiating the terms of the funding agreement,” Khalifa al-Zaffin, executive chairman of the DACC tells MEED.

It is understood that the UK credit agency offered $2bn of credit guarantee for the project.

The DACC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for $1.4bn funding deal in October 2015 with Italy’s Sace.

“We are engaged in discussions with all interested credit agencies,” Al-Zaffin said, in response to whether they are also considering an offer from the US Export-Import (Exim) Bank.

The next phase of the expansion of the Al-Maktoum Airport requires a budget of $32-33bn.

Al-Zaffin said they have not used any of the credit funding that has been offered or obtained so far. “We still prefer to use contractor funding,” the executive says.

A joint venture of US-based Lane and Sharjah-based National Contracting & Transportation Company (NCTC) was awarded a $125m infrastructure contract for work at Al-Maktoum International airport in early December.

The work involves building and installing temporary fences and gates, utilities and site offices, as well as site security. The 31-month contract is scheduled to start in January 2017.

Lane was acquired by Italy’s Salini Impregilo in late 2015.

The contract is one of several that have been recently awarded for the next phase of the expansion of the airport, which is envisaged to become the world’s largest when work is completed in 2025.

The existing passenger terminal at Al-Maktoum International is also undergoing an expansion, which is expected to be completed in 2017. “Most of the major work will be completed in 2017 as planned,” Al-Zaffin said. Once completed, the existing passenger terminal will be able to accommodate 26 million passengers a year, up from the current capacity of 5 to 7 million.

Al-Zaffin said he is not worried about the global slowdown in travel demand and its potential impact to the airport’s expansion plans. “We’ve always managed to grow and to facilitate business growth in the past [even during a global slowdown].”

The executive also downplayed the recent announcement by Qantas to offer a direct flight from Perth to London and if this trend would weaken Dubai’s position as a travel hub. “They have been talking about this for the past 35 years. A lot of people who travel prefer to break their journey between destinations to relax, shop or to visit a new place,” he tells MEED. 

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