With construction under way on the new Dubai World Central airport, the existing Dubai International Airport (DXB) is continuing to grow, as planned, to allow it to be capable of handling 68 million pasengers in 2010, although current projections foresee an actual throughput of 50.8 million at that time (see chart). Here at the Dubai Air Show, the airport authority is unveiling a new logo and name. It is dropping the word “Airport,” thus the airport is to be called simply Dubai International.
DXB is part of the newly created Dubai Airports Co. (DAC), a subsidiary of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation. On October 1, Paul Griffiths, formerly managing director of London Gatwick Airport, took over as the new company’s CEO.
The restructuring of the Department of Civil Aviation includes a strategy to develop the airport as a separate commercial business. In total, 3,500 of that government department’s employees are on the payroll at DXB.
As of early September, 118 airlines operated at the airport, connecting to some 200 destinations. Emirates Airline is still the dominant carrier, accounting for around 65 percent of all passengers.
Terminal 3, which is under construction, is to be dedicated exclusively to Emirates flights. It will be located underground, while its two concourses, Concourse 2 and Concourse 3, will be built at ground level alongside the taxiways.
The new buildings will look familiar if you are a user of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, as the terminal was designed by ADPi, the architecture and engineering subsidiary of France’s Aéroports de Paris.
Terminal 3 is now due to open next May 1, having been initially slated to start operations in 2006. According to an airport spokeswoman, the delay is the consequence of the late addition of several features, including the light rail network dubbed “Red line,” which is to link the airport to the city center. The current expansion phase for this ground transportation program is to be completed in 2010 at a cost of $5 billion– up from the original estimate of $4.1 billion.
With Emirates being the single biggest Airbus A380 customer, Dubai International is concentrating on being ready to receive the new super-large airliner. Eventually, DXB will have the capacity to handle 25 of the Airbus behemoths simultaneously.
Twenty-three of those 25 stands will be in Terminal 3, and at all of the stands, two-story boarding areas with accompanying passenger-loading bridges will allow for boarding or disembarking from both decks simultaneously.
In late August, Emirates and Airbus performed a seven-day program of A380 compatibility tests at DXB, including taxiway, runway and ground support equipment trials, as well as docking at the terminal gate and in Emirates’ maintenance facilities.
Not all the new A380 gates will be available immediately. Concourse 2, the first of Terminal 3’s two concourses, will have five. When completed in 2010 (two years later than planned), Concourse 3 will provide the other 18. DXB officials have refuted reports that the A380 delivery delays have had an impact on the airport’s expansion plans.
Terminal 3 and Concourse 2, with its car park, will accommodate travelers with no fewer than 157 elevators, 97 escalators and 82 moving walkways. In addition, people traveling from the check-in area at the lower level to the departure level above will experience a novel mode of transportation: A bank of four high-speed elevators, dubbed Skytrains, will accommodate a total of 188 passengers.
August is the seasonal peak month at DXB, where passenger throughput reached three million this past August–the airport’s highest ever rate for a single month. On average, June, July and August are peak season for Emirates Airline flights. This year, total passenger traffic for the airport itself should reach 33.5 million and grow steadily to 50.8 million in 2010 (see chart).