By Armina Ligaya www.charterx.com
Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali officially opened yesterday, clearing the runways for chartered flights, private jets and other general aviation.
Although the opening of the airport’s passenger terminal has been delayed until the end of the year there will still be plenty of activity there, said Lorne Riley, the head of corporate communications at Dubai Airports.
“You will see general aviation, which are private aircraft or companies that charter small jets and aircraft, flying passengers in and out,” Mr Riley said.
“It’s not for the general public per se. General aviation is typically related to people who operate their own aircraft, or companies that operate their own charters for corporate and private travel. Al Maktoum has a facility to process passengers and airline crew through the airport in the short-term before the passenger terminal opens,” said Mr Riley.
The first company to sign on is Al Futtaim Services Company in a joint venture with a jet operator in Europe, said Dubai Airports.
Al Futtaim has a fleet of 12 aircraft of which four will initially be put into operation, starting with one daily flight and gradually increasing in frequency. A start date is yet to be finalised.
But Mr Riley is expecting the airport to handle between 25 and 40 landings or take-offs daily by the end of the year.
Al Maktoum International Airport began cargo flights last summer but pushed back the opening of passenger flights until the fourth quarter of this year. It will eventually become the base for Emirates Airline and serve more than 100 other airlines flying into Dubai.
The airport is slated to become one of the largest in the world when completed by about 2030, with five runways, four terminal buildings and the capacity to handle 160 million passengers a year, and 12 million tonnes of cargo.