Immigration to speed up at Dubai airport
Feb 11, 2013 (Menafn - Khaleej Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --As Dubai airport fully unveils its Dh12-billion dedicated A380 superjumbo terminal, the crush of passengers it has brought in has contributed to long immigration wait times, the CEO said.
The new 20-gate Concourse A, part of Terminal 3, has been open since January 2 but declared fully launched on Sunday. It has clearly already benefitted sole resident Emirates airline, which on Sunday projected this year's profits would jump between 18 and 20 per cent on the past year. The company, which with 31 A380 planes currently has the largest fleet of A380s in the world, posted a Dh1.5 billion profit in the year to March 2012.
Dubai Airports chief executive Paul Griffiths said he wanted to eliminate the "fairly backwards process in the whole airport experience in airports all over the world", acknowledging there was an issue with the length of wait times in Dubai -- even if those passing through have the opportunity to shop along some of the 11,000 square metres of retail space.
A380s can carry upwards of 500 people, while the concourse is expected to handle 19 million passengers annually -- as a total of the airport's projected 66 million this year.
Passengers have to take a metro for several minutes to get from the concourse, which took almost 160 million man hours to build and soaked up 930,000 metres cubed of concrete, to Terminal 3 where they can clear customs.
While there appeared to be last minute tinkering happening as media toured the grand facility, billed by anchor tenant Emirates airline president Tim Clark as "the most unique air terminal in the world (with) one of the largest first class lounges in the world", the airport says it is only the hotel which is still undergoing construction.
But it was not all smooth sailing. "We've now got a situation of course with the large numbers of people arriving in A380s we are getting an increase number of passengers arriving at the immigration points," Griffiths said.
The airport was providing training to the rigorous border control staff to enable them to process people faster, while it was pushing ahead with plans to increase numbers of e-gates through which all those with microchip passports can be processed.
"We're very aware of the fact it is an issue."
Griffiths said there was a Dh100 million spend on border security processes, "which should speed up the immigration dramatically".
While uncertain of what the average wait time was, Griffiths said he wanted to get it down to zero.
"There's only two places in the world where you get queues and that's the post office and the airport. I'd be delighted to hand the monopoly on queuing on to the post office."
Meanwhile, Clark jubilantly discussed plans for future Emirates ventures -- and profits -- including expanding into India and China.
Clark said: "I think it is a great shame that we don't service India better."
He said current restrictions from the Indian government meant Emirates service was not what it could be, which left the large numbers of passengers wanting to get outside the major Indian centres stuck on smaller carriers with less capacity at higher prices.
There were talks planned between the UAE and Indian governments to look at the issue, he said.
"I'm sure that will probably happen within the next few months, with a bit of luck."
On a less optimistic note, he said the airline was still having problems with oil prices, which were sitting around the 110-115 mark per barrel -- much higher than necessary for a reasonable profit and revenue for research.
"It is a pity...because the oil prices do not need to be where they are today, they should be at about 70."
Fluctuating oil costs accounted for up to 42 per cent of costs.
"Not many business are faced with this level of what you could almost say are uncontrollable costs."
Were prices more reasonable, "I think you would see the global economy starting to move", he said.
"The oil prices are in the hands of too few people and that should be dealt with."
However, the global economy did not appear to have taken a toll on the emirate's aviation industry with the 11-storey concourse a totem pole to luxury. Included are direct access boarding for first and business class passengers to the upper decks of the A380, a 'quiet room' on the first class floor where passengers can hide from airport announcements, and fresh cut flowers in the first and business class lounges which are replaced every four days, and serviced continually by workers spraying rejuvenating water.
"The appointments are fantastic, no expense has been spared, we have had world class designers do it for us," Clark said.
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