Dubai became a two-airport city on 27 June, when Dubai Airports officially opened the new Al Maktoum International facility, also known as Dubai World Central (DWC), eventually intended to become the world’s biggest airport.
The facility initially opened for cargo operations, welcoming inaugural flights operated by Rus Aviation, Skyline and Aerospace Consortium.
“Phase 1 is the first step in a long infrastructure development project that, over time, will see our new airport transformed into the world’s largest global gateway and a multi-modal logistics hub that plays an increasingly integral role in the ongoing economic and social development of Dubai.” said Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Airports and president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. “It is a proud day for Dubai and an auspicious occasion for the future of global aviation.”
The first phase of the airport’s development features one A380-capable 4,500m runway, 64 remote stands, a cargo terminal with annual capacity for 250,000 tonnes of freight and a passenger terminal designed to accommodate as many as 5 million passengers per year. Once completed, DWC will be the largest airport in the world, with five 4,500m runways, four terminal buildings and capacity for 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo.
“Although it is a long-term project, the need for a second airport in the near to mid-term is clear,” says Paul Griffiths, chief executive officer of Dubai Airports. “Dubai International currently has capacity for 2.5 million tonnes of cargo while volumes are expected increase 48 percent to 3 million tonnes by 2015. On the passenger side we expect to see numbers skyrocket from the 41 million that passed through Dubai International in 2009 to 98 million by 2020 and 150 million by 2030.”
Planning envisaged that the airport would be fully developed by 2017, although analysts say that last year’s financial upheavals – which stifled global demand for air transport – could cause this to be pushed back as many as five years, to 2022.
Griffiths adds that the first airlines to use the new airport have responded well to its facilities and connectivity to the Jebel Ali Port and Jebel Ali Free Zone, via a bonded road. “We are delighted with the response from cargo operators who are seizing the opportunity,” he says. “DWC opened today with 15 cargo airlines signed up, and we expect that number to increase steadily over the next few months.”
Cargo carriers that have signed up to operate into DWC include: Aban Air, ACI, Aerospace Consortium, Aviation Service Management, Coyne Airways, EuroAsian Services, Gatewick, Ramjet, Reem Style, Rial Aviation, Rus Aviation, Sonic Jet, SunGlobal, Skyline and United Aviation Services. Airline operational start dates vary, but the new carriers will arrive gradually in the weeks following the airport’s opening.
The opening was preceded by the presentation of the official aerodrome certification for DWC to Sheikh Ahmed from Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
The older Dubai International Airport reported double-digit year-on-year growth in both passenger and cargo traffic in May.
Passenger number increased 13.6 percent compared with May 2009, rising to 3,654,717. This represents the eleventh consecutive month of double-digit growth for the airport – a run that began in June 2009 with a 10.3 percent gain in traffic.
Passenger traffic for the year to date has risen 17.7 percent to a total of 18,870,253. May cargo volume surged an impressive 31.7 percent from the same month last year, rising to 195,221 tonnes, spurred by increased economic activity in Asia and other regions. Cargo volumes for the year to date are up 27 percent at 917,280 tonnes.
According to Griffiths: “The outlook remains strong as we expect traffic during June and September to hit record levels owing to the onset of the summer travel season. An average of 100,000 passengers per day travelled through Dubai International during the summer rush in 2009 and the number is likely to be much higher this year.”
Anticipating the influx of travellers, the airport has deployed 250 volunteers from different cultures throughout the airport’s terminals, to welcome, guide and assist passengers from the kerbside to the boarding gates.