Dubai Airports paved the way for the successful opening of Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International for cargo operations on June 27 after the new airport passed a series of operational tests conducted during its first ‘live’ flight yesterday with flying colours.
Emirates Flight EK9883, a Boeing 777 freighter operating Hong Kong-Dubai and piloted by Captain Ahmad Bin Huzaim and First Officer Nabil Yousuf Ahmad Mohammad Rai Al Boom, touched down at 1650 local time yesterday amid cheers from an enthusiastic gathering of stakeholders and dignitaries on hand to observe the historic occasion.
“This is an important milestone, not only for the airport’s certification process, but as another step towards achieving Dubai’s vision to become the pre-eminent centre for aviation worldwide,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Airports. “It’s also a testament to the cooperation and dedication of all of the organisations and stakeholders involved, who have done an impressive job of building and preparing Phase 1 of the facility for launch in a very short time frame.”
Phase 1 of the airport will feature one A380 capable runway, 64 remote stands, one cargo terminal with annual capacity for 250,000 tonnes of cargo and a passenger terminal building designed to accommodate five million passengers per year. When completed, Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International will be the largest airport in the world with five runways, four terminal buildings and capacity for 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo. The facility opens initially for cargo carriers, with passenger operations currently slated to start up at the end of March 2011 in concert with the IATA schedule change.
In the short term Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International will increase the airport capacity of Dubai to accommodate the 48% increase in cargo volumes from 1.9 to 3 million tonnes that is anticipated by 2015. In the long term it will serve as a multi-modal logistics hub for 12 million tonnes of freight and a global gateway for the 150 million passengers per annum that are expected to pass through Dubai by 2030.
During the live operation, the flight effectively tested Air Traffic Control procedures, airfield and taxi way signage and routes, radio communication and a host of processes and procedures related to ground and cargo handling, fuelling, catering, customs, immigration and security. The trial also tested communication links between all the parties involved – Emirates SkyCargo, Dubai Airports, Dubai Air Navigation Services, Dubai Police, Customs, Immigration, Engineering Projects, Dubai Logistics City, Dubai World Central, JAFZA, Dnata, Swift Freight and the Roads & Transport Authority.
“The test was an unmitigated success not only for Emirates SkyCargo, but most importantly for our customer Swift Freight,” said Ram Menen, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President Cargo. “The fact that the airport is connected to Jebel Ali Port and Free Zone by a bonded road which cuts transfer times significantly is a strong sales point. Although our cargo hub continues to be Dubai International, there is no doubt that Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International will play an increasingly important role – initially for spot cargo operations driven by customer need and eventually for scheduled freighter services.”
The Emirates operation served as a final exam following an extensive array of system, process and documentation checks, tests and trials that have taken place over the past several months to prepare the airport for opening day. The General Civil Aviation Authority, the overseeing regulator which, along with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority has been involved throughout, will conduct a final review on June 24 to complete airport licensing.