Dubai Airports: a new chapter in world aviation

Posted: 1 August 2008 | His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of DCA & Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group | No comments yet

Dubai is undergoing dynamic growth in all areas of its economy, which has long diversified away from the oil sector. Today, the contribution of the oil sector to Dubai’s GDP is under five per cent, while the services sector, with an average annual growth rate of 21 per cent since 2000, has been the key driver of Dubai’s economic rise. In 2005, the service sector constituted 74 per cent of Dubai’s GDP.

Dubai is undergoing dynamic growth in all areas of its economy, which has long diversified away from the oil sector.

Today, the contribution of the oil sector to Dubai’s GDP is under five per cent, while the services sector, with an average annual growth rate of 21 per cent since 2000, has been the key driver of Dubai’s economic rise. In 2005, the service sector constituted 74 per cent of Dubai’s GDP.

Dubai’s strategic plan for 2015 lays specific emphasis on travel and tourism, trade, and transportation and logistics, among others, as highly conducive sectors for future economic growth. Dubai’s investments in these sectors are in line with this greater plan. The value of investments in Dubai’s tourism, hospitality, leisure, entertainment, and real estate projects, over the next five to seven years is estimated to be approximately US$ 365 billion.

As a result of these developments, the number of visitors to Dubai as well as the city’s resident population will rise dramatically over the next few years. The rapid economic growth of the UAE, coupled with the emergence of Dubai as the busiest business and leisure hub of the region, calls for a radical expansion of its aviation infrastructure. Thus plans for Dubai’s logistics and aerospace sectors are very much grounded in realistic projections and well within its capabilities.

What Dubai aims to accomplish in the coming years will change the face of global aviation and the logistics industry. In its quest to make Dubai the world’s aviation hub, Dubai has earmarked investments in excess of US$ 82 billion for the aviation and aerospace sectors, projects which will be executed in phases over the coming decade.

The plan was put into motion with the beginning of the second phase of expansion at the existing Dubai International. The US$ 4.5 billion project – entirely dedicated to Emirates, Dubai’s international airline considered one of the world’s fastest growing – will add two world class airside facilities and another terminal to the infrastructure, increasing its capacity from 25 million passengers per year to 70 million by 2009.

Terminal 3 and an associated airside facility are nearing completion and will be operational in 2008, while another A380 dedicated facility will be ready in 2009.

With over 90 per cent of its contact gates designed for the superjumbo, the second facility will be the world’s first and only A380-dedicated terminal upon completion. Dubai International will add another first to its long list on August 1, 2008 when Emirates launches its first A380 flight – the first airport in the Middle East to operate an A380.

Even as Dubai International’s expansion nears completion, work has already begun on a project to build the world’s largest airport barely 40 kilometres away. Upon completion Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International will have capacity to cater to 120 million passengers annually and handle 12 million tonnes of cargo at its 16 air cargo terminals.

An estimated US$ 33 billion will be invested in phases in Dubai World Central. The first phase is already underway and involves the development of infrastructure for the US$ 10 billion international airport, the Dubai Logistics City, Residential City, Commercial City, the Enterprise Park and a Golf Resort.

The development of the mammoth airport is necessary to consolidate Dubai’s position as the world’s emerging centre for commerce and business. While the development of Dubai International has been continuous, there will be no more space for expansion when present projects are completed.

Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International

The new airport city Dubai World Central (DWC) is a significant development that extends over an area of 140 square kilometres. The selected site for new airport is adjacent to Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) and is bordered by the Emirates Road and the new Outer Bypass.

The development of such a large international airport, with five runways will generate an estimated workforce and residential requirement of approximately 950,000 people living and working in DWC. The planned airport would prove a major attraction for industrial, office and service employment.

DWC will be a self-contained city, with its own dedicated light rail system which will be linked to the Dubai Metro network and a high capacity road network. The entire DWC development will be built on the latest ‘smart’ technology making it the most advanced development of its type anywhere in the world.

Within the greater project, Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International will be unique in the very true sense of the word. The airport’s ultimate planned annual capacity comprises 12 million tonnes of cargo and 160 million passengers, which makes it the largest airport conceived in the world to date.

Moreover it will provide passengers with an unrivalled travelling experience and cargo operators with state-of-the-art technology and facilities which will enable them to grow and excel in their business. Undoubtedly, it will be a key constituent for the economic development of both Dubai and the region.

The strategic location of Dubai and the provision of a multimodal transport platform for logistics and trade will enhance Dubai’s presence and positioning in a strongly globalised world.

The integration of Dubai International, Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International, Dubai Logistics City, Jebel Ali Sea Port and Jebel Ali Free Zone Area will create a one-of-its-class player with an outstanding and unprecedented capacity to import and export goods between any two regions of the world.

With several passenger terminals and concourses, Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International, will house Emirates Airline and the newly created FlyDubai low cost carrier, which, in combination with the activities of other airlines, will accelerate the booming number of passengers arriving and transferring at, and departing from Dubai. The continuous increase in the number of visitors to Dubai, of which a high percentage are tourists, will significantly enhance the local and regional economy.

A development of the scale and complexity of DWC will produce a very high number of direct and indirect employees. They will be involved not only in air transport activities but also in many other support tasks associated with the airport itself and the cities clustered around the airport.

Project status

Among the essential elements, the following components of the first phase are nearly complete:

  • An A380 enabled Runway (4,500km) and associated taxiways and aprons
  • Air Traffic Control tower (92 meters high)
  • All air navigation aids and systems that will allow CAT III operations
  • A Cargo Terminal with a capacity for 200,000 tonnes expandable to 600,000 tonnes per annum

The passenger terminal building with a capacity of five million passengers annually (expandable to seven million passengers) is expected to be operational in the third quarter of 2009.

The plan for developments at the new facility also includes dedicated facilities for executive jet operators. The airport will also boast hotels and shopping malls, support facilities and state-of-the-art maintenance facilities which will create a regional maintenance hub capable of A, B and C checks on all aircraft, including the Airbus A380.

Executive Jet Centre

The Executive Jet Centre will be one of the biggest in the world and will function as a one-stop centre for business jet operations, including leasing and chartering of business jets, ground handling, VIP passenger handling, ground support equipment maintenance, business jet maintenance, aviation fuel, aircraft catering, flight planning, land clearances and special VIP lounges.

Currently being designed with a handling capacity of in excess of 100,000 aircraft movements a year, the Executive Flight Centre is due for completion in 2008. To include a dedicated duty-free, business centre, fitness room, food outlets and crew rest areas, the Executive Flight Centre will also feature a specific area for executive helicopter and heli-taxi operations.

One of the advantages of the Executive Flight Centre is that it is directly connected to a landside secured heliport that will enable VIP passengers to fly their helicopters from the centre to their final destination, such as the Burj Al Arab and The World Islands. The Executive Flight Centre will also boast specific areas for maintenance, repair and overhaul and aircraft hangars.

Customers will be able to lease a plot for one hangar or a series of plots attached together to accommodate multiple aircraft.

The construction for the first phase components of Al Maktoum International has already commenced on site and is well in progress to guarantee that the initial aircraft operations commence during 2009.

Dubai Cargo Village

Dubai Cargo Village (DCV) at Dubai International has seen throughput grow at an average of over 10 per cent annually and has already crossed the 1.6 million tonnes (annual) mark in 2007. In the first half of 2008, DCV maintained its double digit growth yet again, handling a total of 831,978 tonnes – up 10.70 per cent over the first half of 2007.

Cargo operations commenced at Dubai International over a decade and a half ago, a period in which it has risen from being just another cargo facility to one of the best cargo centres in the world.

When it opened in 1991, DCV was ranked 61 internationally, but in the past one and a half decades it has made it to the top 10. Cargo throughput at the facility has always been almost to capacity since its opening, compelling a series of expansion projects over the years and the eventual long-term expansion master plan unveiled recently.

In less than four years of operation, in 1995, DCV had to carry out its first expansion project after cargo volume crossed the 250,000 tonnes annual mark, four years earlier than the forecasts had projected. The first expansion saw DCV’s capacity expand by 100,000 tonnes annually to reach 350,000 tonnes. By 1998, the facility was capable of handling 500,000 tonnes annually, and in 2005 the facility crossed the one million-ton capacity mark.

Considering growth forecasts which indicate that additional major cargo handling facilities will be required in order to satisfy the rising demands, the AED1 billion first stage of the Cargo Mega Terminal has been completed and partly opened. The Mega Terminal will be able to handle an estimated 2.8 million tonnes of freight annually once fully operational.

The phased expansion project for the facility is already underway and with cargo movement through Dubai on the increase, the facility is expected to make it to the world’s top five cargo centres within the next few years.

By the time the 16 proposed cargo terminals at Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International are complete and operational, Dubai will be at the top of the world’s cargo and logistics industry both in terms of throughput and capacity.

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