The Largest Airport - Al Maktoum

Al Maktoum International Airport (IATA: DWC, ICAO: OMJA) is a major new airport currently under construction in Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates. Previous working names have included "Jebel Ali International Airport," "Jebel Ali Airport City" and "Dubai World Central International Airport". It will be officially known as Al Maktoum International Airport. It has been named after the late Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the former ruler of Dubai. It will be the main part of Dubai World Central, a planned residential, commercial and logistics complex scheme. World Central is the world's first truly integrated logistics platform, with most transport modes, logistics and value added services, including manufacturing and assembly, in a single bonded and Free Zone environment.


At the heart of this huge new community is the Al Maktoum International Airport, planned as the world's largest passenger and cargo hub, ten times larger than Dubai International Airport and Dubai Cargo Village combined.

If completed as planned, the airport will have an annual cargo capacity of 12 million tons, more than three times that of Memphis International Airport, today's largest cargo hub, and a passenger capacity between 120 million and 150 million per year - more than Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (90 million in 2008), currently the world's busiest passenger airport.

Designed for the future, Al Maktoum International Airport proposes to handle all next-generation aircraft, including the Airbus A380 super-jumbo. Up to four aircraft will be able to land simultaneously, 24 hours a day, minimising in-air queuing.

Dubai World Central will include:
  • 6 parallel runways, 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) in length, each separated by a distance of 800 metres (2,600 ft).
  • Three passenger terminals including two luxury facilities; one dedicated to airlines of The Emirates Group, the second to other carriers, and the third dedicated to low cost carriers.
  • Multiple concourses
  • 16 cargo terminals with a 12 million ton capacity
  • Executive and Royal jet centres
  • Hotels and shopping malls
  • Support and maintenance facilities: the region's only hub for A, B, and C Checks on all aircraft up to A380 specifications
  • Over 100,000 parking spaces (probably underground) for airport staff and passengers
  • Al Maktoum International Airport and the existing Dubai International Airport will be linked by a proposed high speed express rail system
  • Al Maktoum International Airport will also be served by the Dubai Metro and a dedicated Dubai World Central light railway
  • Al Maktoum International Airport will be used by foreign carriers only. Emirates operations (both passenger and cargo) will remain at Dubai International Airport.


The airport is planned to have six 4,500m parallel runways, with a large passenger complex in the middle. Three runways would straddle at one side of the complex while three more would be located at the other side. Furthermore, each runway would have extended asphalted pathways on either side which would allow aircraft to by-pass other runways and taxiways without disturbing aircraft movements of these runways and taxiways. The airport is the biggest section/component of Dubai World Central. When fully built it will be capable of handling 120 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo annually. Its large runways and the distance between would allow simultaneous take-offs and landings.

Dubai's expectations of an exponential rise in passenger traffic over its skies is built on the presumption that it would become the ideal air hub for transiting travellers from the Asia-Pacific Region, South Asia, Greater Middle-east, Africa, Europe, and Australia (for the Kangaroo route--Australia to Europe/Britain and vice versa).

Upon completion it will be the fourth largest air facility in land area (physical size). Only three other air facilities are/were larger than Dubai World Central:

  1. King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, Saudi Arabia (790 square kilometers)
  2. Montreal, Canada, the Montréal-Mirabel International Airport (392 square kilometers as originally planned in 1969, but as of December 2006, only about 50 square kilometers)
  3. King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (225 square kilometers)

The air complex would, perhaps, become the most Airbus A380-friendly air facility in the world since all the hard-stand aero bridge gates are capable of accommodating the aircraft, as the master plan model suggests.

The facility, however, will initially service cargo airlines. Several large warehouses and hangars line the westernmost part of the airport. These interlinked warehouses and/or hangars will stretch from end-to-end of the westernmost runway. Each of these warehouses and/or hangars are capable of housing A380 aircraft.

The airport will complement Dubai International Airport, some 40 km away. The airport itself is surrounded by a large logistics hub, an ultra-luxurious golf resort (with suburban housing interwoven between greens and fairways), an expansive trade and exhibition facility (3 million square metres of exhibition space—would become the world's largest single exhibition site/location/address/destination), a massive commercial district, and a spacious residential/housing district.

Due to the massive physical scale of the masterplan, others would come to claim that Al Maktoum International Airport would be the most ambitious airport project ever envisioned. The latest estimates by the government of Dubai peg the price tag at US$ 82 billion., This aerotropolis would be US$62 billion more expensive than the next most expensive airport project Hong Kong-Chek Lap Kok International Airport Core Project—which cost the Hong Kong government around US$ 20 billion (in 1997 dollars). This would also make it the most expensive single project in the world, ever (with the possible exceptions of the Dubai Waterfront, The Palm Deira, and New Songdo Intelligent City).


Dubai World Central (not just the international airport) will have a total of 100,000 parking slots for automobile vehicles for its employees, Dubai residents, tourists, and other users. This will give the air facility the distinction of having the largest parking facility in the world.


December 2007

  • The construction is delayed and it is expected that the first flight will take off in June 2010 instead of 2009
  • The A-380 enabled 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) runway was completed within its projected 600 day construction period and will undergo strenuous tests and trials over the next six to eight months in order to fulfil its CAT III-C requirements.

Meanwhile, construction of the airport's approximately US$75 million cargo terminal is 50% complete. The first phase of the project will see the terminal initially handle 700,000 tonnes per annum. By 2013 it is expected to become the largest of its kind in the world, handling more than 12 million tonnes of cargo annually.

The project is expected to be fully built-out and operational by 2017. The 2009 financial crisis may postpone the completion of the complex with 5 years to 2022.



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