I know I have said this before but the UAE’s aviation sector could be so much stronger if the major airlines combined and operated from a single hub airport.
Not everyone will agree. And it may never happen. But imagine the possibilities.
DXB has no room for further expansion and will reach its capacity of around 90 million passengers within likely the next twelve to eighteen months.
DWC is being expanded to a capacity of 25million by 2018 but with no contact gates. Emirates would only move there when the main midfield terminals are complete for a capacity of 130 million.
AUH is completing its midfield terminal due to open in 2017 which will increase the airport’s passenger capacity to more than 30 million per year. There is an option to double this in the future to 60 million with further expansion.
But funding for these projects is critical. At the same time both major airlines are under increasing competitive pressure and yields and profits are falling.
But why not simply focus growth and financing on one major airport serving both Abu Dhabi and Dubai linked by high speed rail and outstanding road connections.
Develop DWC into a world class, world leading airport. Home to a single, powerful UAE national airline.
Emirates and Etihad would combine into a single long haul carrier removing the existing yield damaging route conflicts that exist today.
flyDubai would serve as the regional low cost carrier for Dubai and Abu Dhabi, maybe under the same brand as the combined long-haul carrier – with Air Arabia remaining in Sharjah to support the more northerly Emirates.
The opportunity exists to build an infrastructure that supports the growth of both cities and that cements the UAE as a global aviation hub.
Money saved from not building and maintaining competing airports can be invested into solar power, se-salination, metro and national rail connections.
Major airlines around the world would fear the strength of a united UAE aviation strategy and airline. Singapore is constantly investing in its hub where a fourth terminal opens shortly and Doha has already opened its sparkling new airport with more than enough room to expand.
This may be time for Abu Dhabi and Dubai to move from friendly rivals to staunch and powerful partners.