Emirates to shift base to new airport in Jebel Ali

Emirates plans to eventually shift its base to the Al Maktoum International airport coming up in Jebel Ali's Dubai World Central development, said the airline's president. "Clearly, in the future, the whole of Emirates operations would be moved to the new airport in Jebel Ali. Emirates has to go to a hub that it has been heavily involved in the design of. It would not make much sense if we would do that and not go there," Tim Clark told Emirates Business.

"The government has got consultants working on the airport project at the moment, who are at a very advanced stage of the preparation of the master plan. By the end of the year, they will have a detailed plan of what the airport is going to look like, the final design and so on," he added.

Clark further said the two airports – Dubai International and Al Maktoum International – cannot co-exist.

"Personally, I do not see a place for two airports in Dubai. The new airport has to be built to the scale that Dubai needs. Today, we have real constraints in the current Dubai airport. We have carriers who want to come

here and can't and carriers who want to come in at a particular time and they can't," Clark said.

"The Terminal 2 expansion for the regional carriers, on the other hand, is going at such a pace, it is really an airport under pressure," he added. "I am sure the government is taking cognizance of the fact whether there will be one or two airports. If there are two, there will be pros and cons. But I eventually see just one airport in Dubai."

So what about the investment being pumped into the new Terminal 3 and Concourse 2, which are especially being built for Emirates?

"Tough one, isn't it? You have got to look at the big picture. If the government is spending $30bn (Dh1.1trn) on a place such as Jebel Ali, then the reality is what you do with your existing airport structures would have to be faced," said Clark.

Meanwhile, Terminal 2 and Concourse 3 are both scheduled for opening in the fourth quarter of this year. "We should be able to move into Terminal 3 by Q4."

More A380 orders a possibility

Emirates is weighing the possibility of ordering additional Airbus superjumbos A380s in the future, according to its President Tim Clark.

The carrier is already the largest A380 customer with 58 superjumbos on order.

When asked about the possibility of Emirates ordering additional A380s, Clark said: "If the new airport at Jebel Ali is built at the size and the pace that we like, anything is possible. We could consider it.

The carrier, which will be receiving its first A380 in summer this year and four more by the end of this year, followed by another one in March next year, is expecting to receive all 58 A380s by 2013, Clark said.

However, after Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders said on Tuesday Airbus is currently doing a "major review" of the delivery schedules for the A380, Clark said: "We hope they would get it right. We are pushing Airbus to give us a date for the delivery of the first A380 aircraft – in summer."

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