The DCA confirms that the apron area around the proposed Concourse 2 will see the most work. This area will provide 27 widebody stands, of which five will be set aside for accommodating the new A380 aircraft. Construction of this apron is already underway and will be ready later this year.
Concourse 3, in the meantime, will feature an additional 12 gates all with double-decker boarding facilities for servicing the A380. All aprons will be built complete with taxiways and lanes capable of handling the giant aircraft, while some existing taxiways will be expanded to complete the work associated with the newly commissioned second runway.Home and away
Dnata has used its operation at Dubai International Airport as a model for creating a growing network of overseas handling stations. In Pakistan, the company operates Gerry's Dnata, a joint venture serving four cities: Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar.
An additional joint venture, Safiran Dnata, recently began operations in Tehran (Iran), while Dnata Wings operates at Manila's fiercely competitive Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines.
Elsewhere, in India, the handler secured several handling concessions in partnership with InterGlobe, Menzies Aviation Group and United Airlines, but so far the Indian Government has not authorised the start of operations.
Dnata has also been in discussion with prospective partners elsewhere in the Middle East and will be looking to open new locations within the next 18 months, according to Derek Swan, Senior General Manager, Airport Projects.
"The overall strategy is to look regionally rather than globally, complementing Emirates' own operations where the ground handling economics of the station make it viable," explains Swan.
Terminal 2 will also be significantly extended to provide
additional remote parking stands and Lewis knows that construction work will
see a greater incidence of off concourse and off gate operations.
"Fortunately, the DCA will provide a fleet of passenger transport buses for us to operate," he says.
The next four years are likely to prove a testing time for Dnata. While the handler has to adapt to its home airport being radically reshaped for the second time in two years, there is also the potential threat of competition coming to the ramp in Dubai for the first time.
For now, there is little doubt that Dnata's position as the sole service supplier at Dubai is a considerable blessing. The kind of fierce competition that dominates so many other airports in the world would certainly compromise Dnata's ability to maintain service levels during the construction upheaval.
But, as Lewis points out, Dnata is at pains to avoid the complacency that can sometimes set in when you are the only show in town. "The question of complacency occurs a lot during our own internal debates," he says. "We are aware that being a sole service provider brings with it certain responsibilities."
As such, onus is placed on operating as if competition did indeed exist, and Dnata bristles with quality and performance measurement programmes. Already ISO9001 certified, Dnata is now shooting for AHS 1000 accreditation.
On the commercial side, Dnata has spent the last two years stepping away from a tariff based structure to a more customised pricing system for handling fees. The previous menu-based approach to buying ground services has been reorganised to create a more tailored handling offer for customer airlines.
"Every carrier is different and has very different needs," explains Vince Dennehy, General Manager Sales and Services Delivery. "It's important to tailor accordingly - that's why a tariff approach just doesn't work."
Crucially, Dennehy and others at Dnata have many years experience working in highly competitive environments and bring such understanding to bear on Dnata's approach. Dennehy arrived from a contracts purchasing position at Air New Zealand in September 2001 and knows all about an airline's ground handling needs. Similarly, Tom Lewis came to Dubai after eight years with Servisair in the UK and 17 years with a variety of airlines in Canada before that.