A $35 Billion Construction Plan Approved for Al Maktoum International Airport

April 29, 2024

Dubai has initiated the construction of a groundbreaking AED 128 billion ($35 billion) terminal at Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), poised to become the biggest airport in the world upon its completion. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai's Ruler and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, unveiled plans for the new passenger terminal, which will further elevate Dubai's position as a leading global aviation hub. Let's delve into every aspect of this futuristic hub, from its current development status to its trajectory towards becoming the largest airport worldwide.

DWC New Construction Plan

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved designs for the new passenger terminal via his X account. H.H. Sheikh Maktoum revealed that the forthcoming terminal would be five times larger than the current Dubai International Airport. Once fully operational, it will encompass 70 square kilometers, featuring five parallel runways and five passenger terminals accommodating over 400 aircraft gates.

Dubai International (DXB) will gradually shift all operations to Al Maktoum International Airport in the coming years. The new passenger terminal at DWC will elevate passenger capacity to 260 million annually, effectively integrating DXB’s operations within a decade.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, emphasized that Dubai's aviation infrastructure has consistently expanded alongside the city's growth.

"The announcement of phase two of Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport's (DWC) expansion, representing a substantial investment of AED128 billion, marks the start of a huge investment of resources by our many stakeholders in designing and building a state-of-the-art airport that will provide a quick, convenient, and high-quality 21st-century experience for our customers. This further solidifies Dubai's position as a leading aviation hub on the world stage," he said.

A Transformative Journey

Al Maktoum International Airport DWC made its presence felt the day its first commercial passenger flight landed in Budapest. Fast forward through a decade marked by a pandemic and significant changes in global travel patterns, and DWC has found its niche. 

While not yet the most bustling airport, DWC has become a center for aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul. It hosts various air cargo operators, handles executive jets, and accommodates charter flights.

The passenger services are limited, with low-cost carriers primarily serving Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. 

However, Dubai Airports’ CEO Paul Griffiths has confirmed that the "greenfield" airport is all set to embark on a new journey. Griffith shed light on the airport's evolving role in the Dubai Air Show 2023 held in Dubai World Center and provided insights into Dubai Airports' strategic vision. 

He said, “We’re going to completely change the business model for airports, make them actually far more intimate, and get rid of all the legacy processes that we’ve had to subject our customers to, for far too long.”

Dubai Air Show 2023

The Initial Plan

Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP), the infrastructure developer for Dubai's aviation sector started the construction of Al Maktoum International Airport DWC in 2006. The multi-phased plan of the futuristic mega-hub has changed over the years. 

Al Maktoum International Airport, also known as Dubai World Central (DWC), aimed to claim the spot of the world’s largest airport by 2050. The city's second terminal commenced cargo operations on June 27, 2010, and introduced passenger flights in October 2013. Since then, DWC has rapidly expanded and revolutionized the global aviation industry.

Back then, it involved building the biggest airport in the world by 2050, with the capacity to handle 260 million passengers a year and facilitating the transportation of 15 million tonnes of freight. The Dubai Airports Authority had outlined plans to conclude the first phase of the Al Maktoum Airport expansion by 2030. 

Growing Demand for Dubai South Properties

With the emirate building an “entire city” around the airport in Dubai South, demand for housing for a million people will follow, said His Highness Sheikh Maktoum. 

“It will host the world's leading logistics and air transport companies… Dubai will be the world's airport, port, urban hub, and new global center.”

Dubai South is a newly developed Dubai community comprising eight sub-districts. The area is witnessing a substantial increase in land sales transactions, leading to the launch of many residential and commercial properties. Situated in the heart of Dubai South, the airport is the area's major landmark. As the airport expands, off-plan real estate sales in Dubai South are also expected to increase, as are the number of hotel developments near the airport. 

Al Maktoum Airport

Airport Expansions Across the Gulf

Dubai's ambitions align with a broader trend across the Gulf region, where various countries invest heavily in new, large-scale airport facilities. Qatar's Hamad International Airport, Oman's Muscat Airport, Bahrain's new terminal, and Abu Dhabi's Terminal A are all part of this race for global airport supremacy.

As Dubai and its regional counterparts invest in expanding and modernizing their airports, the stakes in claiming the top spot in global airport rankings have never been higher. The race is about connecting passengers and positioning these cities as international trade centers and tourist destinations. 

The journey of DWC unfolds against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving aviation landscape, with the promise of groundbreaking changes and continued excellence on the horizon. Stay tuned for more updates as we follow Dubai's ascent in the global aviation stage!

FAQs About Al Maktoum International Airport DWC

Dubai Airports Company is the airport authority that owns and manages both Al Maktoum International Airport and the Dubai International Airport.

Dubai World Central lacks direct metro connectivity. Nevertheless, a reliable alternative is provided by regular bus services connecting the airport to the Ibn Battuta metro station. Bus number F55 operates hourly during metro operational hours, and bus number F55A serves the route between the airport and Satwa Bus Station when the metro is not in operation.

No, DWC (Dubai World Central) and DXB (Dubai International Airport) are not the same; they are two distinct airports in Dubai. They are approximately 40 miles apart.

Emaar South is situated on the outskirts of Dubai South, a vast master-planned project initiated by the Dubai Government. Within Dubai South, distinct zones are allocated for commercial, aviation, and retail activities. The development encompasses numerous shops, luxury residences, and office spaces.

The world’s largest airport welcomed its first commercial passenger flight in October 2013, operated by Wizz Air from Budapest.

Currently, King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia is recognized as the world's biggest airport based on land area. Nevertheless, Al Maktoum International Airport is swiftly progressing toward its goal to secure the title of the world's largest airport by 2050.

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