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The Ruler of Dubai Has Approved Final Designs For $35 Billion New Airport That Will Have 400 Aircraft Gates and Be Able to Handle 260 Million Passengers Per Year

The Ruler of Dubai Has Approved Final Designs For $35 Billion New Airport That Will Have 400 Aircraft Gates and Be Able to Handle 260 Million Passengers Per Year

an aerial view of a large airport

The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced on Sunday that his government has approved the final designs for a new passenger airport located 23 miles southwest of downtown Dubai that will one day become the new home of Emirates Airline with the ability to handle as many as 260 million passengers annually.

The new passenger terminals at Dubai World Central Airport (DWC) will have a staggering 400 aircraft gates and will come at a cost of 128 billion Dirhams (US $34.87 billion).

a large indoor building with many trees and people
Government of Dubai

Also known as Al Maktoum International Airport, the massive 35,000-acre site first opened in 2010 as a cargo airport, and a limited number of passenger flights started operating from a small passenger terminal in 2013.

The government of Dubai had originally planned to build out the airfield and move all operations from Dubai International Airport in the downtown Al Garhoud neighbourhood of the emirate by 2025, but funding problems have delayed the project on several occasions.

a large white building with lots of people walking around
Government of Dubai

On Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed did not lay out an exact timeline for when the new passenger terminals would be completed, going only so far as to say that operations would be transferred from DXB to DWC within the next 10 years and with an initial capacity of 150 million passengers per year.

“We are building a new project for future generations, ensuring continuous and stable development for our children and their children in turn. Dubai will be the world’s airport, its port, its urban hub, and its new global center,” Sheikh Mohammed commented.

“As we build an entire city around the airport in Dubai South, demand for housing for a million people will follow. It will host the world’s leading companies in the logistics and air transport sectors.”

Work on DWC was put on an indefinite hold in 2019, but last year, sources claimed that the government had been putting key stakeholders on notice to be ready for when the project was given the greenlight to restart.

The project will involve the construction of five brand-new passenger terminals, which will be made up of the main terminal building, which includes the main check-in hall and aircraft gates, connected to four smaller satellite terminals, connected by an uninterrupted automated people mover.

At five times the size of Dubai International Airport (DXB), the new terminal will allow a massive expansion of Emirates’ operations. The airfield will also increase Emirates’ capacity by more than doubling the number of runways at DXB from two to five parallel runways at DWC with quadruple independent operation.

Matt’s take

This project has been a long time coming, and it’s pretty clear that capacity at the existing Dubai International Airport (DXB) has been stretched to its absolute limits.

The problem with DXB is that the airfield is hemmed in by surrounding residential neighbourhoods, preventing the airport from any further expansion. With just two runways that operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, there is little more the airport can do to expand capacity.

The infrastructure issues at DXB were really put under the spotlight during the recent Dubai floods that swamped the crowded airfield and submerged key access roads for several days.

The heavy rainfall caused chaos at the airport for several days, with thousands of passengers stranded in the crowded terminals. Emirates was put on the back foot during the disruption, and the airline struggled to get its operations back up and running.

Creating a clean sheet design at DWC is Dubai’s best chance to massively expand its aviation industry while competing with rival nations like Saudi Arabia, which is pumping billions of dollars to transform its aviation industry, including a new six-runway mega airport in Riyadh, which will be able to handle 185 million passengers per year.

View Comment (1)
  • DWC should consider a remote terminal as its 6th terminal. That remote terminal could be Mirabel or Mid America (east of St. Louis) :p

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