A decision has yet to be reached on when commercial passenger traffic will start to be transferred from Dubai International airport to the new Al-Maktoum International airport at Dubai World Central (DWC).

Due to increasing passenger volumes at Dubai’s current highly congested airport in downtown Dubai, it was planned that passenger traffic will be transferred to DWC over the next decade.

Speaking at a press conference on 2 December, Khalifa Al Zaffin, executive chairman, at Dubai Aviation City Corporation said that the new passenger terminal at Al-Maktoum airport is ready to be used by commercial passengers, but is still pending approval from the Dubai government.

“The passenger terminal is ready to go, it has tested, and once we are given the green light, then we can operate it,” he said.  

He added that the decision as to when passengers will be transferred rests with a committee comprising representatives from Dubai’s airport authorities and regional airlines Emirates and Flydubai.

“A decision has not been made when we will come to this part of the world,” he stated, before adding that an announcement will be made “very soon” about the exact date the terminal will be open to commercial passengers. Previously it was planned that the transfer of passengers would begin during 2013.

DWC has confirmed that business aviation will begin operations at the new airport from 2013.

Private jets have been flying in and out of DWC since early 2011, but from next year they will be able to use the VIP terminal at Al-Maktoum airport. Then from mid-2013, they will be using purpose-built facilities from DWC’s aviation district. The airport opened to cargo traffic in 2010.

However, the move towards introducing passenger traffic is a more difficult process as it will prove harder to attract airlines to use Al Maktoum airport rather than Dubai International, particularly considering that connecting flights will leave from Dubai International and presently there is no transport links between the two airports.

DWC incorporates not only the new Al Maktoum airport but also a number of specialised free zones focusing on industry sectors such as logistics and aviation.

It is being constructed in Jebel Ali in Dubai, close to the emirate’s Jebel Ali port, one of the largest container terminals in the world.

Once the airport is completed in the 2020s, it is intended to handle up to 120 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of air cargo a year.