The aerospace hub is a 6.7sqkm corner of the total 145sqkm Dubai South, the flagship project for the UAE. However, the hub, opened by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, in January, has the aim of creating a value chain for the aerospace sector and increasing the contribution of advanced industries to the Emirate’s economic growth.
It is home to a VIP terminal for leading fixed-base operators (FBOs) for business and private aviation, including Falcon Aviation, Jetex, and Jet Aviation, and has a dedicated education and research and development (R&D) cluster aimed at building a comprehensive aviation campus. It is also home to the E2 Event and Exhibition Centre, a dedicated exhibition zone and permanent home of the Dubai Airshow and the Emirates Flight Academy.
So far AED 17 billion ($4.63bn) has been invested by government and the private sector. At the hub opening, HE Khalifa Al Zaffin, executive chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation (DACC) and Dubai South, said: “The Mohammed Bin Rashid Aerospace Hub remains committed to elevating Dubai as the region’s aerospace capital by ensuring that we advance through excellence and deliver value that will benefit millions.”
The opening was followed in May by the first step towards the launch of the Dubai Air Navigation Services (DANS) training facility, the signing of a lease. The DANS facility will offer a range of training courses that address technical, operational and theoretical subjects in air traffic management (ATM) for both newcomers to the industry and those moving up. DWC has been hit by a number of factors recently including trade spats, stock market falls, changes in the way people are flying – and even the type of aircraft being operated. The end of Airbus A380 production requires a rethink of a mega-hub at DWC, as the facility is known, according to Tim Clark, chief executive of Emirates. The carrier would have had 200 Airbus A380s at DWC by 2035 but now its requirements have changed. “Without them, the airport design changes completely,” said Clark. “So we have to stop there and rethink.”
The Dubai Government plan to build DWC to an eventual capacity of 250 million passengers annually has been placed on the backburner, with completion of the next phase pushed back five years to 2030. “Dubai Airports is currently reviewing its long-term masterplan to ensure infrastructure development takes full advantage of emerging technologies, responds to consumer trends and preferences and optimises investment to grow its already significant contributions to Dubai’s economy. The exact timelines and details of next steps are not as yet finalised,” said a government statement. So, while DWC as a project takes a step back, the aerospace hub is gaining momentum.
Tahnoon Saif, CEO, Dubai South, said: “We are focusing on MRO for commercial airlines. We have partners like Lufthansa Technik. They started with us less than three years ago and they have expanded to twice the size in the last year and are in discussions to expand further. “We are expecting by 2030 to have the hub completed. So far we have 30% of the infrastructure developed – we’re ahead by four years so far.”
This is the year of Expo2020 Dubai; the first time this world expo event will come to the Middle East. The expo celebrates culture, collaboration and innovation, and will be staged over 173 days from October 20 2020 to April 10 2021 at Dubai South.