Dubai-owned Emirates airline said Thursday, November 1 it will push ahead with ambitious multi-billion-dollar expansion plans despite the battering the airline industry has taken since US terror attacks in September.
"Emirates will go ahead with expansion plans," airline chairman Sheikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum told reporters ahead of Dubai 2001, the seventh international aerospace exhibition.
Sheikh Ahmad said the strong turnout for the exhibition was a "solid vote of confidence in the stability of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates and the long-term future of aviation throughout the Middle East."
"Given the slowdown internationally, I believe manufacturers and suppliers will continue to turn to the Middle East as the major market with growth potential." According to the International Airports Council, the six Gulf Arab states alone will spend two billion dollars within the next three years solely on expanding existing facilities, Sheikh Ahmad said.
Emirates stressed last month that it would maintain delivery over the next 12 months of 11 aircraft on order. Emirates has 23 firm orders for A330s with Airbus Industrie as part of an expansion plan over coming years, making it the European airliner consortium's largest A330 customer. The airline also has orders for six A340-500s, deliveries of which begin next year, and has ordered five of the new Airbus A380 superjumbo airliners and taken an option on five more.
The airline aims to have as many as 210 planes operational by 2010, from a current fleet of 36 planes. Dubai projects a sixfold increase in tourism to the Gulf emirate within the next decade.
Dubai airport, which handled 12.3 million passengers in 2000, is about to undergo an expansion that will include a third terminal, as well as expansion of the cargo village, airfield, and infrastructure and support facilities. Dubai expects to register 30 million passengers by 2010 and 62 million passengers by 2020. — (AFP, Dubai)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )