The threat to Britain’s status as a leader in global aviation from expanding airports in the Middle East has been lifted to another level, as Dubai on Monday announced plans to invest $32bn (£19.8bn) in creating a mega-hub in the desert.
The funds will be ploughed into Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum International, and could potentially see it expand to accommodate 240m passengers a year, 100,000 more than the number of travellers who used all of London’s airports put together last year.
Al Maktoum will become the biggest airport in the world following the expansion, which will take place in two phases. The first, which will take between six and eight years to complete, will boost capacity to 120m passengers a year – 40m more than Heathrow’s current maximum. However it is eventually envisioned that mega-hub will cater for 240m passengers a year.
Dubai’s ambitious plans will inject extra urgency to the airports debate in Britain. Boris Johnson and business leaders such as Lord Norman Foster argue that Britain also needs to be bold and build its own new hub. Heathrow also stresses that the UK needs extra hub capacity in order to remain competitive. However, opponents to Heathrow expansion argue that the Gulf airports are already snatching away transfer passengers from European hubs and a second runway at Gatwick would meet the country’s needs for additional runway capacity in the short-term.
“This advantage is now ending as competitor hubs abroad such as Paris, Frankfurt and Dubai overtake us as the busiest airport for international passengers. Heathrow can’t keep up with them. It is full, with no spare capacity. Unless we expand, Heathrow’s comparative decline will make the whole of the UK a less attractive place to do business as we fail to offer the range of destinations businesses need.”
Some comments below the Telegraph story:
Dubai is expanding an airport located 20 or 30 miles into the desert from Dubai city. It has almost no impact on anyone other than a few camels. The Heathrow expansion, however, will subject millions of London residents to more noise and pollution. The Dubai airport can operate 24 hours per day whereas Heathrow cannot.
It’ll threaten nothing if ISIS gets hold of it.
I can’t see how Heathrow can be a hub – the geography is all wrong. If you are coming from north or south America, you can fly direct to Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt, you don’t need to go to Heathrow. If you are coming from Asia then you have to overfly Europe to get to Heathrow, so what is the point of that? A hub is in the centre of the wheel, not way out on the rim of it. Heathrow doesn’t make any sense. It did when London was the centre of the universe and aircraft could not fly non stop long hauls, but those days ended a long, long time ago and things are different now.
t’s 3,400 miles from Heathrow to Dubai. I’m willing to admit I’m a bit slow but can someone explain to me how airport capacity in Dubai has any relevance whatsoever to our need, if we have one, for a hub airport? Is someone going to stop off in Dubai because he couldn’t stop off at Heathrow?