DUBAI, April 13 Airlines flying into Dubai are
preparing for diversions and schedule changes as the emirate's
main airport, a hub for tourism and trade in the region, plans
to reduce the number of flights it handles during construction
work on its runways.
Dubai International, which handled 66.4 million passengers
in 2013, making it the world's second busiest airport for
international passenger traffic after London's Heathrow, will
cut flights by 26 percent for an 80-day period, Dubai's airports
authority said on Sunday.
The cut-back will occur between May 1 and July 20 as first
one runway and then the other is closed for resurfacing and
other construction work, Dubai Airports said.
During that period eight airlines which now fly into Dubai
International will divert to the emirate's new Al Maktoum
International Airport, which opened to passenger traffic last
October. Flights handled by Al Maktoum will increase to over 600
a week from more than 80 currently.
Some flights into Dubai International are expected to be
cancelled rather than diverted to Al Maktoum, however; this
could temporarily slow growth of Dubai's economy, which depends
heavily on international tourism and travel.
Tim Clark, president of Dubai's flagship airline Emirates,
said in February that his company planned to ground about 10
percent of its fleet from May because of the runway work, which
would affect the carrier's revenue.
Emirates and local budget airline flydubai will contribute
53 percent of the total traffic reduction required at Dubai
International, Dubai Airports said. In May 2013, Dubai
International handled a total of 31,121 aircraft movements.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Andrew Torchia)