Whatever the rest of the world builds, it seems Dubai can build it bigger.
As well as laying claim to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, Dubai is busy building what is touted to become the world’s biggest airport, if all goes according to plan.
Authorities say the country’s new second airport, Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International in the desert area of Jebel Ali, south of Dubai, will ultimately be able to handle 160 million passengers a year by 2035.
Al Maktoum International, which is part of Dubai World Central (DWC) – a planned residential, commercial and logistics super complex – opened last June to cargo flights.
Dubai’s property crash in 2008 has slowed the project, but authorities hope that passenger flights will begin here by 2013.
With big aspirations for airport growth, almost 100 million passengers are expected to pass through Dubai’s two airports by 2020.
Dubai World Central is expanding in phases and will eventually have at least five runways.
It is set to become a global aviation and logistics mega hub – catering not just for cargo but connecting vast numbers of passengers travelling on East-West routes.
Dubai’s fast-growing state-carrier, Emirates, which is currently based at the main gateway, Dubai International Airport will need more space to cater for its growing fleet.
Emirates on the move
Having already ordered 90 superjumbos, Emirates will inevitably outgrow its current hub and is expected to move over to its new home at DWC in 2025, by which time the airline is expected to be handling 80 million passengers a year.
This week, Emirates went fleet shopping again – this time at the Dubai Airshow – an important, biennual international event in the aviation calendar, where it placed a mammoth order for 50 Boeing 777 long-range jets.
Elsewhere in the Gulf – Qatar and Abu Dhabi are also building mega-hubs to support their fast-growing national airlines, Qatar Airways and Etihad respectively.
By the middle of the century, The Middle East will be home to three mega-hub airports in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi.