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Plans for Dubai World Central Airport to be Dubai's #1 Airport

Modern History & Growth of Dubai International Airport
For as long as I've been recruiting in the Middle East (7 years) Dubai International Airport has had some form of major work ongoing. There have been billions of dollars invested in Dubai Airport in a attempt to make Dubai the centre of the aviation world. It's been a success! Dubai International has transformed itself from a relative minnow of an airport in terms of passenger numbers to one of the busiest airports in the World today. 

In 2013 Dubai International Airport was ranked the 7th busiest airport in the world for total annual passengers (66.4 million). This was a 15% rise on its 2012 figures and there is expected to be a similar rise for 2014 taking Dubai International to the 2nd busiest airport in the World by the end of 2014 and overtaking Heathrow amongst others.

Long Term Issues with Dubai international Airport
However despite Dubai International Airport being one of the fastest growing airports in the World, it has been realised that in the long term there is more scope for continued improvement and development at the new Dubai World Central Airport (DWC) site. Dubai International Airport still has some room for growth although a lack of land around the airport site limits how big Dubai International can actually go in the long term without a major overhaul. 

Therefore plans are in the very early stages for Dubai World Central to take over the baton from Dubai International as the Emirates number 1 airport. 

Dubai World Central Airport to Become Dubai's #1 Airport
Dubai World Central (DWC) which you may have previously heard referred to as Al Maktoum International Airport or Jebel Ali Airport sits at the opposite side of Dubai on a relatively untouched piece of land on the outskirts of the Emirate, called Jebel Ali. This site is also where the 2020 Expo Exhibition Centre will be developed.

The long term plans for DWC is to have the capacity for a staggering 160 million passengers annually likely making it the World's busiest airport when complete and fully operational. When exactly this will be is too early to say. To achieve this figure DWC will rely on having Dubai's main airline Emirates exclusively using the airport. At present Emirates exclusively use the newly built Terminal 3 at Dubai International for their Dubai flights.

Whilst DWC will see increased traffic in the build up to Dubai Expo 2020, a recent interview with Dubai Airports Chief Executive suggested that DWC would likely be capable of handling only 12 million passengers by 2020. Therefore suggesting that Dubai International will still be the main airport coping with the expected 20 million tourists visiting Dubai for the Expo 2020.

It has also been said that DWC would need to be capable of handling 120 million passengers before Emirates would be ready to move over to the DWC airport. Emirates are projected to carry 70 million passengers from Dubai by 2020 alone suggesting that it will years after the 2020 Expos before DWC is ready to accommodate its target capacity of 160 million passengers.

Dubai World Central at Present
Phase 1 of DWC was completed in 2013 and saw the airport go from exclusively carrying cargo to opening its doors to passengers in Oct 2013. Phase 1 of the project included a single A380 compatible runway, a passenger terminal with a capacity for 5 million passengers (expandable to 7 million), a cargo terminal building with the capacity for 250,000 tonnes per annum (expandable to 600,000 tonnes) and a 92 meter air traffic control tower.

The next phases for this mega project are in discussions currently and there is no news at present on specific companies who will be carrying out work on the next phases. This is expected to be announced in the coming months.

The first step will be the enabling works on the site which are estimated to start around the turn of the year and last for approximately 12 months. Once this work is complete, we can expect the real interesting work to begin.

Plans for Dubai World Central
The size and scale of Dubai World Central when complete will be like no other airport you have seen and the transformation of the Jebel Ali site that will house the Dubai Expo and DWC will be unrecognisable in 6 years time.

The exact facilities for DWC are not 100% set in stone as yet, however some include:

-5 x 4,900m parallel runways each separated by a minimum of 800m (Allowing simultaneous take-offs / landings from adjacent runways)

-16 x Cargo terminals (capable of 12 million tonnes)

-Minimum of 3 terminals - all said to be multiple times larger than the current terminals at Dubai International. I have heard up to 5 times as big mentioned.

Plans for the airports and terminals will likely not change drastically however having spoken to staff involved on the early stages of this project there are significant challenges in designing such a large airport that likely will not be finished for 15....20.....25 years. 

The risk is that by designing an airport now that will not be finished for many years, you run the risk of the airport being outdated before it is even at full capacity. Designers need to take a futuristic view of the aviation industry when planning such a long running project. Ask yourself, will our airport experience be the same 20 years from today? If not, what changes can we expect? These are questions Dubai Airports are having to think about now.

For this reason, expect DWC to be kitted out with the most advanced technology available to ensure it is still relevant in 15 years time when DWC may hit its peak for passenger numbers. The exact spend for this project is impossible to accurately measure, however Zawya reported that the latest government estimates for the total project value are circa $78 Billion.

There are many 'Mega Projects' in the UAE currently. Some are currently in construction, some are in the design and feasibility phase. However few can rival the scale of Dubai World Central Airport. Whilst some projects may be scaled down or put on the shelf, Dubai World Central will go ahead and the start of the next phase is just around the corner.

Maxim Recruitment expect to be heavily involved in the recruitment of 1,000's of Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers and Engineers on this project over the coming years.

If you are interested in working on such an ambitious and iconic project in Dubai, be sure to keep in touch with myself, Maxim Recruitment consultants and our award winning web-site for full job alerts.

Stuart Hackett
Maxim Recruitment 

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