DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A flight carrying a little more than 100 passengers from Budapest touched down Sunday at Dubai’s new Al Maktoum International Airport, a modest first arrival for a terminal designers hope will be the world’s largest in just 10 years.
The United Arab Emirates’ most flashy city-state, known for its high-flying ambitions, already gave the new airport the code DWC for Dubai World Central. The name mirrors Dubai’s vision of itself as a connection point between east and west.
The airport’s construction and development is forecast to cost more than $32 billion. When complete, it will have five runways capable of handling 160 million passengers a year. About 63 percent of that will be people in transit, said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths at the inauguration of the new passenger terminal.
Aviation comprises 28 percent of Dubai’s gross domestic product, some $22 billion a year. Much of the current revenue comes from Dubai International Airport, which is the fourth busiest airport in the world serving around 57 million passengers last year. That airport, though, is expected to reach its full capacity of 90 million passenger by 2020.
The new Al Maktoum International Airport is an attempt to hold Dubai’s edge in the market.
“There is a lot of pressure to get the airport running,” Griffiths said. “Its ambition is to be the world’s largest airport and the world’s largest hub.” More info