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Thread: Dubai World City Airport

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Dubai World City Airport

    Nobody can accuse Dubai of thinking small. The new airport, rendered in the link below, is supposed to exceed the current leader in cargo traffic (Memphis) by 3x, exceed the current leader in passenger traffic (ATL) by 30%, and have 6 parallel runways.

    There are two points to make. First, the notion of central hubbing might work well for freight, but it is increasingly obsolete for international passenger travel (although practical for regional/local). The hub-and-spoke system is more costly for airlines and less desirable for customers. Sales orders for the new 787 (and the dearth of orders for the A-380) are evidence that airlines are investing more in smaller long-haul airplanes, anticipating routes between lesser cities (Pittsburgh-Glasgow, Orlando-Prague, etc.). I don't think this grand hub idea is the future and Dubai might find itself with more runway and gate capacity than it can ever hope to fill. Luckily, in the desert there won't be the embarrassing eyesore of grass growing through cracks in the cement.

    Second, check out the picture. Anything strike you as strange? Why, in a country that is for all purposes an empty wasteland outside of its urban cores, does there need to be such dense housing right next to the airport? Daytime might be ok for noise, as people work. And, of course, those people need a place to live (Chep Lap Kok is surrounded by high density housing for people working at the airport and its attendant operations). But nighttime is when the freight traffic starts going (anyone who lives in Memphis, Newark or Louisville knows this). Noise will be a problem 24-hours there, and there will apparently be a big audience for it (cargo carriers are notorious for buying older airplanes not used for passenger traffic - planes that have old engines that make no pretension to abate noise...747-200s, DC-10s, and 727s.)

    I realize that less dense development costs much more, as city infrastructure like water, etc. needs to be more far-flung. But come on - they have space, and goodness knows enough money...

    http://www.bizbuzzmedia.com/Admin/Im...ebel%20Ali.jpg

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Welcome to Cyburbia.

    The hub and spoke system is not dead; in fact it is alive and well. Hartsfield is a prime example of it. Atlanta is not the final destination for most of the passengers that use the airport. International travel is even more reliant on the hub a spoke model. While secondary routes are starting to emerge (like the ones you mentioned) the overwhelming amount of international traffic comes from hubs. The reason the hub and spoke airlines lost some much money and the model was decried as outdated was the labor and operations models were dated not the transportation model of the hub a spoke system. If the hub and spoke system for international travel did cease then airports like JFK, IAD, and LAX would be in a world of trouble. These airports are busier than ever.

    Dubai makes sense for such an aerotropolis for two reasons. First it is being the financial and commerce center of the Middle East. Companies from around the world have offices in Dubai. Second planes like the A380 and the 787 do not have an infinite range especially when loaded down with cargo, people and fuel. Dubai is a logical stopping point to not only refuel (not for the 380 but for older aircraft) but pick up more passengers. Third given its central location in the Middle East makes it an ideal place for an international hub.

    The reason for the density is the aerotropolis model.

    Here are a few websites that might help you grasp the idea:
    http://www.aerotropolis.com/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerotropolis

    The basic concept is that businesses and people cluster around transportation corridors and airports are not exception. As the world becomes global and the JIT supply chain management, locating around airports makes sense. As for the noise, it is a concern but old rope starts, DC-10 and 27's are slowing being phased out and the hush kits allows them to operate in most airports with the exceptions of places like SNA. (If you think those planes are loud then you should hear an Antonov 124 takeoff.) Many new (and existing) airports designate "noise contours" where most of the noise from takeoff and landing occurs. In these areas zoning tends to only allows for commercial and industrial uses. This does not eliminate the noise but it does reduce it. New airports plan for this where older airports did not do so. In fact most airports were initially built when planes were still prop driven.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Thank you for the links Brocktoon. Very interesting links about the Aerotropolis, and idea I knew existed but didn't know there was a name/model for.

    As for the hub-and-spoke argument, I realize that major hubs continue to thrive and grow today. But before I would invest $82B, I would try to anticipate what the market would look like 30-50 years from now. I would guess that if the newer point-to-point model is slow to evolve, at least the trend will be towards multiple airports rather than single major ones (the domestic vs. international airports that exist in the larger cities). The problem is that many hubs like Newark are trying to play both the regional and international game, and this causes severe delays. On-time percentages in the NY-area airports hover around 60%, with Newark the worst offender. Some attribute this to airlines insisting on offering regional p-to-p service with smaller-capacity jets, which do not take significantly less time to operate in takeoffs/landings than the largest aircraft. The result is a much lower passenger-to-movement ratio. Air traffic is snarled, but there is no increase in raw passenger volume. The problem, though, is not that p-to-p is a bad model, just that runway and gate capacity cannot handle airlines that try to do both. I think there should be a smoothing-out of capacity - in that the largest airports stop growing (and frustrating travelers at peak times - I bet we see the worst ever this holiday season), and smaller airports take the load off (Newburgh for NYC).

    Southwest resisted adopting the hub model, and now runs routes between rather obscure cities or at least secondary airports in those cities. PHX and Dallas-Love probably have the highest concentration of flights, but they don't really serve as hubs and SWA won't even let you book a flight that has a connection (must book each leg individually). I think that some international carriers have - perhaps incorrectly, I grant you - wondered whether this would work on overseas routes. Continental runs 757's across the Atlantic, and Iberia runs an A320 between Barcelona and JFK (normally you would connect in Madrid). These are not "international" aircraft in either capacity or range, but apparently they can handle it and airlines wouldn't run them if they lost a lot of money (although Iberia is heavily subsidized).

    But there are significant constraints to all this, etc.

    As for Dubai being a refueling point, I did not realize that was much of an issue. 47's, 77's and 330/40's frequently make non-stop long hauls from northwestern Europe to SE Asia, and air routes from the Northeast US, especially with the 77-ER, can serve most points directly except Australia (SIA has a EWR-SIN, and Delta is starting an EWR-Bombay soon). I don't doubt, however, that Dubai is wise to anticipate this for cargo.

    Finally, I don't think the 380 and 787 can be grouped together (the new A350 is more comparable). They represent two completely different product lines. The A380 is still valuable in the hub-and-spoke model (only the largest airports can handle it at the gate). The 787 represents a move towards point-to-point, because it is smaller but has about the same range, more appropriate for service between far-flung mid-size airports. At least so far, I think the market has spoken as to which is a better long-term strategy as 787 orders has outstripped A380 orders.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Point to Point usually involves smaller aircraft and thus the need for more of them, resulting in congestion in many airports. This is also due to the lack of regulation in markets like the New York area and Chicago. Each airline determines their own schedule with little to no coordination. ORD can handle approximately 60 takeoff and lands an hour. During peak times there are 75+ takeoff and landings scheduled. To relieve the congestion I like economist solution. Allow only X takeoffs and landings and let each airline bid for the right to use the slot. They can sell the slot if they are no longer using it. The NYC area had allocated slots at one point in time I guess they either added too many or they ended the practice, I am not sure.

    London to Australia is a heavily traveled route given the history of the two nations as is trips to Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Singapore. Often these trips have stops. Dubai is a logical place. Cargo is completely based on the hub and spoke system and Dubai is a logical place to be the center of the Middle East for such operations. Dubai is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. It has become a financial center, tourism destination and the location of choice for most multinationals regional office. Almost every Fortune 500 company has an office in Dubai. By building a large airport they are giving themselves room to expand. That is just good planning.

    I think SWA is less point to point than most people realize. Jetblue and many of the other smaller carriers are true point to point. If you book a trip on SWA most now have stop overs and they are often in PHX, LAS, MDW and MSY. With the size and reach of SWA this was bound to happen.

    As for equipment the A380 and the 787 are comparable in that they are both long range aircraft. Airbus bet on volume and Boeing bet on efficiency. The A350 was an afterthought but with the success of the 787 Airbus is playing catch-up. A320 and 757 are both ETOPS aircraft. Many US carriers use 320 and 737's for routes to the Caribbean while the 757/767 is a workhorse for the US to Europe routes.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I think that is a good idea about slots, sort of like carbon credits, where they are tradable on the open market. The only problem that arises when gate space or take-off slots can be bought is that airlines would buy them and not use them, in an effort to "shut out" the competition. The scarce capacity then puts upward pressure on fares. A shrewd strategy, that is if the capital outlay is more than offset by some provable economic return. I think this may have been done at Love Field through the Wright Amendment to protect American.

    I certainly don't disagree about Dubai being the next frontier for all sorts of economic activity, and that its airport needs to be able to withstand that growth, but what they have planned for seems to be a little more than what they might end up needing. They have the space and the money though, so why not...

    You're right about SWA having to abandon its original route model. When the above-mentioned Wright Amendment went into effect, it prevented SWA from 1) operating out of DFW and 2) flying out of TX to states beyond those bordering TX. This severely hampered the growth of a Love Field hub for them, and the point-to-point strategy evolved as a result. As it turns out, it has worked for them and the W.A. ended up being an ironic boon to their company in forcing them to adopt a previously unexplored route plan that ended up having great potential. It seems now that they are moving back towards a more traditional model and I wonder what the reason is for that.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    I think SWA is less point to point than most people realize. Jetblue and many of the other smaller carriers are true point to point. If you book a trip on SWA most now have stop overs and they are often in PHX, LAS, MDW and MSY. With the size and reach of SWA this was bound to happen.
    Really? In terms of total passengers I would have to assume that the vast majority of Southwest passengers are using it for direct flights (though I don't have data to back this up, other than what Southwest commercials and their Rapid Rewards program says). I use Southwest quite a bit for travel in the west - and the only reason is that I have the choice of 8-10 non-stops from EACH of the three Bay Area airports EVERY DAY to Phoenix, Vegas, Portland, Seattle, LAX, Ontario, Orange County, Burbank, etc, etc. I can't think of any flight to any of those places (including PHX and LAS) where at least 80-90% of the passengers got on the plane where I was getting on and got off where I was getting off.

    I realize flights with stop overs are now much more possible on Southwest, but are they really the MAJORITY now? Every time I see them opening a new city they open in a point-to-point manner (meaning a LOT of flights pretty much immediately) instead of the typical hub-and-spoke method of adding a flight or two to a busy hub. For example, I've never seen Southwest open a new city and offer just flights to PHX and LAS.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    Really? In terms of total passengers I would have to assume that the vast majority of Southwest passengers are using it for direct flights (though I don't have data to back this up, other than what Southwest commercials and their Rapid Rewards program says). I use Southwest quite a bit for travel in the west - and the only reason is that I have the choice of 8-10 non-stops from EACH of the three Bay Area airports EVERY DAY to Phoenix, Vegas, Portland, Seattle, LAX, Ontario, Orange County, Burbank, etc, etc. I can't think of any flight to any of those places (including PHX and LAS) where at least 80-90% of the passengers got on the plane where I was getting on and got off where I was getting off.

    I realize flights with stop overs are now much more possible on Southwest, but are they really the MAJORITY now? Every time I see them opening a new city they open in a point-to-point manner (meaning a LOT of flights pretty much immediately) instead of the typical hub-and-spoke method of adding a flight or two to a busy hub. For example, I've never seen Southwest open a new city and offer just flights to PHX and LAS.
    CJC if you only look at west coast cities then United, Alaska and Us Airways are all point to point airlines. United has close to 20 non stop flights from the bay area to the LA area and at least 6 to Phoenix and Seattle. If you fly from OAK to Detroit, Oklahoma City, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh you will see the majority of the flights have at least one stop to pick up more passengers or require a plane change. Most of these stops are in Vegas, Phoenix, Midway and St. Louis. If you are on the East Coast most of the flights have stops. New Orleans to Tulsa requires a plane change. As Southwest has evolved from just a regional carrier to a major airline less and less of its passengers are flying without a stop or a plane change. Next time you fly in to Phoenix or Vegas look to see the number of people that are connecting and the people already on board that are continuing on from another location. Southwest offers flights that have a stop but you do not change planes.

    CJC I live in Phoenix, if you have some free time next time you are here PM me and lets grab a drink. With enough warning The One might even make an apperance.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    From my experience with Southwest: each plane completes several flight legs in a day. One may fly from Providence to Nashville, then to Phoenix. Another may fly from Manchester, NH to Baltimore and on to Jacksonville, FL. A passenger travelling from New England to New Orleans can take either flight to the first stop and transfer to another flight headed to New Orleans, which is likely arriving from another city further north. Every time I have flown on SW, this seemed to be the scenario. They don't use a few large hubs, but many small transfer points instead.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    CJC if you only look at west coast cities then United, Alaska and Us Airways are all point to point airlines. United has close to 20 non stop flights from the bay area to the LA area and at least 6 to Phoenix and Seattle. If you fly from OAK to Detroit, Oklahoma City, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh you will see the majority of the flights have at least one stop to pick up more passengers or require a plane change. Most of these stops are in Vegas, Phoenix, Midway and St. Louis. If you are on the East Coast most of the flights have stops. New Orleans to Tulsa requires a plane change. As Southwest has evolved from just a regional carrier to a major airline less and less of its passengers are flying without a stop or a plane change. Next time you fly in to Phoenix or Vegas look to see the number of people that are connecting and the people already on board that are continuing on from another location. Southwest offers flights that have a stop but you do not change planes.

    CJC I live in Phoenix, if you have some free time next time you are here PM me and lets grab a drink. With enough warning The One might even make an apperance.
    I'm sure you're right. I was thinking more of the mentality of Southwest - as in, do they add flights based on hubs? From what I've read and from their marketing, I was always under the impression that they did not add a flight (or city or set of flights or whatever) unless it made financial sense from a point-to-point standpoint. If some people can connect from other flights and take the flight from X capacity to X+10% capacity, then that's gravy. I have no doubt that the gravy is probably now worked into their financials in determining new flights, but I still thought they didn't see flights as viable unless a very large percentage was point-to-point traffic.

    To me, I guess I see Southwest as more point-to-point out here just from the sheer number of flights (I know that really doesn't make sense ). United may have twenty flights a day from the Bay to LA, but Southwest has like a hundred (pulling that number from you-know-where, but you get the idea) I use them specifically because of the number of flights per day to everywhere in the West from everywhere else in the West (except Denver ). They're probably a much different airline in the East. That being said, I may have to turn against them if they actively campaign against the California High Speed Rail ballot initiative next year (it's been reported that they have up to $50 million set aside to kill the initiative ).

    I'll definitely take you up on the drink! Not sure when I'll be down there next, but usually end up there every three to four months. It might be too much to handle The One as well though...

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