Future passengers got a glimpse of what Dubai’s World Central Airport will look like when fully completed at the Dubai Air Show this week. The mammoth USD$36 billion expansion has suffered some setbacks but, when finished, it will be one of the biggest airports in the world.
Big plans for an airport struggling to get traction
World Central Airport, opened in 2010, was designed to take some pressure off Dubai International, the world’s busiest hub airport. Dubai rarely does things by halves and World Central Airport, when completed, will cover 145 square kilometers and handle up to 240 million passengers annually.
But amid an economic downturn in the Gulf, the airport’s continued expansion has been delayed. Right now, construction work around World Central has stopped and cash has dried up. Dubai Airports told Bloomberg that “exact timelines and details of the next steps are not as yet finalised.”
A report in The National suggests that a meeting will be held in December to discuss “the way forward” on the expansion of both airports in Dubai. With the timeframe for construction at World Central Airport now pushed back towards 2030, complications have arisen because masterplans are been updated to reflect changes in airport design and technology.
A shift in focus for World Central Airport
And as Tom Boon noted in Simple Flying earlier this week, the original idea of using World Central as a hub for Emirates’ fleet of A380s is rapidly dating, with Emirates beginning to turn away from the mega plane. Emirates CEO, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum (who is heavily involved with World Central’s expansion plans) told Tom Boon;
“The model when we were talking before was around A380s, and that’s gone. It’s not my decision. I cannot build it for something I know it is not going (to get) … I have to change the model, the gates, the building size…”
Right now there’s a single runway at Dubai World Central Airport, a passenger terminal that can handle five million passengers a year and a cargo terminal that can handle a million tonnes annually. The airport handles a fraction of the aircraft, passenger, and freight passing through Dubai International.
A look at the photo of the scale model of the expansion program gives you some idea of where Dubai wants to take World Central Airport.
The masterplan proposes five parallel runways, 4.5 kilometers long, each wide enough apart to deal with simultaneous operations. They propose two terminals on either side of the airport. There will be four concourses 2.8 kilometers long (although owing to the design, you won’t have to walk 2.8 kilometers). Each concourse will have 100 wide-body contact stands.
And this is only half of it. You can read about Dubai World Central’s expansion plans here.
The sheer scale of the proposed expansion of World Central Airport is staggering. And that scale brings with it a world of complexities and difficulties. Whether it ever gets completed it another question, but it sure would be an experience passing through it.