We are family
Dr Khaled Al Mazroui, general manager of Fujairah International Airport, explains how a multi-million-dollar expansion plan will boost the emirate's standing in the aviation industry.
What level of growth did Fujairah International Airport experience in 2007?
In total, our overall aircraft movements grew by 27% compared to 2006, while passenger volumes increased by 7%. Bearing in mind that Fujairah International Airport does not have a national carrier like many other airports in the region, this level of growth can be considered very high indeed.
The number of aircraft being accomodated at the airport has been rapidly increasing and there were times in 2007 when we did not have enough space available for all of them. At one point we had 91 aircraft on the airport's apron and had requests to handle more planes.
How are you planning to tackle these spacing issues?
We already have a new apron for the maintenance facility, which can accommodate at least 12 aircraft of different sizes at the same time. We will also have a designated area for a free zone, but we are beginning to develop new ideas.
We took full advantage of the Dubai Air Show and signed agreements with a couple of companies, one of which will maintain 737 aircrafts as well as the Airbus 320.
The other company is a jet service provider, to be based at Fujairah International Airport, which will service clients with business jets to the UAE and GCC countries. Although this is completely new for us, it's a growing business. We are in a great position to offer competitive rates and a good location.
It has been reported that the airport will triple in size over the next three years. How is this project likely to take shape?
This figure is in terms of aircraft movements and a highway to Dubai will allow for this. Dubai is considered the capital of the UAE, so the extra transport infrastructure will increase the potential for a major increase in passenger operations.
We have already initiated plans with hotels in Fujairah to attract European tourists. Furthermore, we are also redesigning the structure of the airport departments and creating a new area for quality control and safety.
Improving safety in all operational areas is of crucial importance for the facility. At the moment, we have a shortage of offices, so over 100 offices for the airlines will be established and constructed.
Essentially, the complex will stay the same, but there will be a new tarmac area and a new passenger catering facility. We will also be constructing a new tower for air traffic control.
What will be the total cost of this expansion?
In total it will cost US$30 million.
What are your future plans for marketing this development?
We are not only concentrating on eastern aircraft but also western, like Boeing and Airbus. We want to attract new clients to use the UAE as a technical hub to fly between Europe and Asia.
In the coming two years we are looking to have a passenger services airline operating out of Fujairah. Private carriers will start their own services, some will be low cost carriers and others, fully fledged airlines.
We should have these agreements tied up by the end of the year or early 2009. It is my aim for cargo to become 60% of the operations and to achieve a greater balance with passenger operations.
How will your ambitions for Fujairah International Airport complement other aviation hubs in the country, especially the forthcoming Dubai World Central project?
The airports in this country are like a family. The facility being constructed in Dubai can be considered a new child and if it becomes famous and successful, then the world will become aware of the family it comes from. The UAE's aviation growth has so far surpassed all expectations and this looks set to continue.
Each emirate will claim its own piece of the market and I am absolutely confident that with the developments we have set in place, Fujairah will only complement the projects in Dubai. In my opinion, we are living in the golden age of aviation.