Dubai International Airport affected by landing congestion

More aircraft are having to circulate and burn fuel above Dubai International at peak times as slot congestion rises according to a report by the Business Traveller Magazine.

Full report below:

The practice - well known to passengers travelling to London Heathrow and other key hubs - has spread to the Gulf's leading airport as it grapples with capacity constraints amid increasing growth. The airport handled 50.98 million passengers last year, up 8% on 2010.

One pilot said: "It's becoming a bigger problem. When you're flying an A380 around for half an hour waiting to land, that's a considerable add-on cost."

Emirates declined to comment.

Helen Woodrow, Dubai Airport's Head of Aeronautical Strategy, said there has been a rapid rise in demand for airspace capacity in the past five years, which has led to congestion at Dubai International Airport during peak periods.

Evenings and early mornings tend to be the busiest times as flights criss-cross from Asia and Europe, although many flights operate in the middle of the night.

"We are aware of this and are tackling the issue at multiple levels," she said.

"In the near term, changes to standard arrival and departure routes are currently pending regulatory approval. These changes are designed to enhance the efficiency with which flights to and from Dubai and our neighbouring airports are able to be handled by air traffic control."
Dubai International Airport
She added there are several further phases of airspace development planned over the coming years which will focus not only on changing processes, but also on using emerging technologies such as 'performance based navigation'.

In the meantime, Dubai Airports is engaging with various stakeholder to ensure air routes are decongested, bottlenecks are reduced and latent airspace capacity - much of UAE airspace is reserved for military use - is unlocked.

"Unfortunately not all of the fixes required are under our control. Dubai Airports is actively participating in several national and regional forums with our industry partners such as CANSO (Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation), the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, to work across borders to optimise the region’s airspace structure," she said.

Peak periods, by their very nature, are highly desirable by airlines who typically prefer to retain these slots.
But should the situation deteriorate then the 'plan B' option of switching more flights to Dubai World Central could be accelerated.

"We do anticipate slot constraints at Dubai will make Dubai World Central an increasingly attractive option for general aviation and cargo airlines in future," she said.

Planes circle for up to 55 hours a day over Heathrow, burning 190 tonnes of fuel and releasing 600 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Around 60% of arrivals at the airport are held in four holding stacks, according to figures released by air traffic control service Nats.

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