Work on Dubai’s Al Maktoum Airport has stopped because the economies of the Gulf states are faltering, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
The airport was designed to be one of the world’s biggest, with an annual capacity of more than 250 million passengers.
Bloomberg cited sources – who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic – saying that construction activity has been halted and finances for expansion frozen until further notice.
According to Bloomberg, the completion date for the first phase of the airport – envisaged as a $36 billion super-hub allowing locally based airline Emirates to consolidate its position as the world’s number one long-haul carrier – had already been pushed back five years to 2030 in October.
Dubai Airports said in a statement made to Bloomberg that it is reviewing its long-term plan and that “exact timelines and details of next steps are not as yet finalized”.
The statement also reported Dubai Airports as saying that it aims to ensure development takes full advantage of emerging technologies, responds to consumer trends and preferences and optimises investment.
According to Bloomberg, last year Dubai’s economy grew at the slowest rate since 2010, as the Gulf’s chief commercial centre grappled with fallout from geopolitical tensions and low oil prices.
Tourism has been stagnant since 2017, while Emirates Airlines remains based at the original Dubai International hub as it mulls how best to develop its strategy.
The company is finding it tougher to add profitable new routes, and is reworking its fleet plans with the cancellation of the Airbus SE A380 super-jumbo jet.
The newer airport, also known as Dubai World Central, opened in 2013. Annual capacity increased five-fold to 26.5 million last year following work on the passenger terminal; however, the number of actual customers was just 900,000.
Capacity was due to increase to 130 million passengers on completion of the first phase of expansion. The new design plans to handle a capacity of 260 million – more than twice the customer total at the world’s busiest airports today.