Skip to main content

World's latest mega-airport finally opens to passengers

By Frances Cha, CNN
updated 7:26 PM EDT, Mon October 28, 2013
Following an official inauguration ceremony, the passenger terminal at Dubai's new Al-Maktoum International Airport received its first commercial passenger flight this weekend. Following an official inauguration ceremony, the passenger terminal at Dubai's new Al-Maktoum International Airport received its first commercial passenger flight this weekend.
HIDE CAPTION
Open for business
Aviation city
First commercial arrival
Welcome to Dubai
160 million
More to come
New home
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dubai's new airport welcomed first commercial flight on Sunday
  • When completed in 2027, Al Maktoum International Airport is expected to become the world's largest airport
  • Although it only has three launch carriers, more deals are expected to be announced

(CNN) -- Dubai's aviation industry achieved its biggest milestone to date on Sunday, when the emirate's new airport welcomed the arrival of its first commercial flight.

Located in Jebel Ali and part of Dubai World Central, an "aviation city" that the government launched as a free economic zone, Al Maktoum International Airport is expected to become the world's largest airport upon completion.

Like the emirate's main airport, Dubai International Airport (located 50 kilometers to the north), Al Maktoum International Airport is owned by the government of Dubai and operated by Dubai Airports Company.

Although full commercial passenger services were originally scheduled for 2017, the mega project was delayed for years due to the regional financial crisis, and faces a new tentative completion date of 2027.

Dubai's mega-airport open for business
Study: Wider seats mean better sleep

Various reports estimate the total cost of the project at 120 billion dirhams ($32.67 billion).

The airport has been open for cargo flights since 2010.

Opening ceremony

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air was the first airline to be welcomed at the new passenger terminal, and was greeted with a customary festive water salute.

Al Maktoum International Airport's two other launch carriers are Kuwait-based low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways and Bahrain's full-service Gulf Air, which also made its inaugural flight to the new airport on Sunday.

The UAE's state-owned carrier Emirates is expected to operate entirely out of the new hub by the time of completion.

More: Insider Guide: Best of Dubai

In the works

Gulf News has reported that more airlines are close to signing deals to use the new airport, with the Dubai Airports CEO hinting at more announcements to come.

Currently operating just one main runway, Al Maktoum will ultimately operate five runways with an annual capacity of 160 million passengers and 12 million tons of cargo.

To put those numbers into perspective, the world's current busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, serviced approximately 95 million passengers in 2012.

Dubai International Airport handled 57.7 million.

More: Camel-milk chocolate and other great Dubai souvenirs

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
A foreign language can be the best aphrodisiac, so we traveled the world in search of the hottest accents.
updated 3:35 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Hidden from the rest of the world for decades, Myanmar's Lethwei boxing is experiencing a revival globally.
updated 7:17 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
This aging cargo work whale makes more than 60 flights each week, carrying parts for all of the Airbus programs.
updated 7:32 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Vikings, vicious politics and vindaloo curries -- Scotland isn't all tartan and bagpipes.
updated 8:26 PM EDT, Sun September 14, 2014
Former brothels, public toilets and war bunkers now provide eccentric watering holes for those willing to drink deep.
updated 11:04 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Ushaka Marine World, Durban, South Africa
Joburg is trendy, Cape Town is glamorous, but Durban has style -- and a restaurant inside a shark tank.
updated 3:56 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Tirana's nightlife
Former Tirana stronghold of a totalitarian leader now home to a pulsing clubs and bar scene.
updated 11:38 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Whether filled with electric blue sulfur flames or hissing lava, these mega mountains offer incredible vistas.
updated 8:40 PM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
This once-a-year luxury cruise visits untouched islands and never-snorkeled reefs.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Peter J. Goutiere was just shy of 30 years old when he piloted a Douglas C-47 from Miami to Kolkata, India.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Breathtaking scenery, championship design -- many of the courses dropped into the Canadian Rockies are among the most memorable in the world.
updated 9:06 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
A floating hippo in the Thames river designed by artist Florentijn Hofman
Why Florentijn Hofman is sending a giant beast into London's River Thames.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
Scrap all those other bucket lists you've been compiling and start saving -- these memorable-for-a-lifetime trips don't come cheap, or easy.
updated 8:42 PM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
A squabble over a device that limits how far a seat can recline has brought inflight etiquette into the spotlight again.
updated 6:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Thirst for victory competes with thirst for booze in event where competitors raise their glasses long before they cross the finish line.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT