Dubai International Airport

Dubai International Airport ( DXBOMDB)  is an international airport serving Dubai, the largest city of the United Arab Emirates. It is a major aviation hub in the Middle East, and is the main airport of Dubai. It is situated in the Al Garhoud district, 4 km (2.5 mi) southeast of Dubai. The airport is operated by the Department of Civil Aviation and is the home base of Dubai’s international airline, Emirates and Emirates SkyCargo; the Emirates hub is the largest airline hub in the Middle East ; Emirates handles 60% of all passenger traffic, and accounts for 38% of all aircraft movements at the airport. Dubai Airport is also the base for low-cost carrier, Flydubai. As of July 2010, there are over 6,000 weekly flights operated by 130 airlines to over 220 destinations across every continent except Antarctica.

The airport was the 15th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic handling 40.9 million passengers in 2009. The airport was also the 4th busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic. In addition to being an important passenger traffic hub, the airport is the 7th busiest cargo airport in world, handling 1.927 million tonnes of cargo in 2009, a 5.6% increase compared to 2008 As of August 2010, DXB is the 6th busiest airport in the world by cargo traffic, and the 14th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic.

The new $4.5 billion Terminal 3 opened on 14 October 2008, and was built exclusively for the use of Emirates Airline. Concourse 3 is also part of Terminal 3, and is expected to be completed by 2011. It will be built exclusively for the Emirates Airbus A380. Terminal 3 is the single largest building in the world by floor space and brings the total capacity of the airport to over 62 million passengers and will increase to more than 80 million passengers by 2012 when Concourse 3 opens.

Dubai International Airport will be complemented by Al Maktoum International Airport (Dubai World Central International Airport), a new 140 km2 (54 sq mi) airport that will help handle the influx of travellers well into the future. It began cargo operations on 27 June 2010 and is expected to begin passenger operations by March 2011.


The history of civil aviation in Dubai started in July 1937 when an air agreement was signed for a flying boat base for the aircraft of Imperial Airways with rental of the base at about 440 Rupees per month – this included the guards’ wages. The Empire Flying Boats also started operating once a week flying East to Karachi and West to Southampton, England. By February 1938, there were 4 flying boats a week.

In the 1940s flying from Dubai was by flying boats operated by British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), operating the Horseshoe line from Southern Africa via the Persian Gulf to Sydney.

On 29 October 2010, the airport marked its 50th anniversary. The airport has seen over 402 million passengers at an average annual growth rate of 15.5 per cent, and handled over 3.87 million aircraft at an average annual growth rate of 12.4 per cent.


Construction of the airport was ordered by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, in 1959. It officially opened in 1960 with its first airfield, at which time it was able to handle aircraft the size of a Douglas DC-3 on a 1,800 m (5,906 ft) long runway made of compacted sand. Three turning-areas, an apron and small terminal completed the airport that was constructed by Costain.

With the expansion of the Airport Fire Services it was necessary to find more suitable accommodation and a hangar style building was made available to them at the end of 1976. This was located midway between the runway ends to facilitate efficient operations. A new building was also constructed to house the Airport Maintenance Engineer, Electronics Engineering section and Stores unit. Expansion of the Airport Restaurant and Transit Lounge including the refurbishing of the upper level and the provision of a new kitchen was completed in December 1978.

In May 1963 construction of a 9,200 ft (2,804 m) asphalt runway started. This new runway, alongside the original sand runway and taxiway opened in May 1965, together with several new extensions were added to the Terminal Building, hangars erected, Airport and Navigational aids were installed. The installation of the lighting system continued after official opening and was completed in August of that year. During the second half of the 1960s several extensions, equipment upgrades like a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) and an instrument landing system (ILS) as well as new buildings were constructed. By 1969, the airport was served by 9 airlines serving some 20 destinations.

The inauguration was on 15 May 1965 and was marked by the visits of the first big jets of Middle East Airlines and Kuwait Airways Comets.

The advent of wide body aircraft a need for further airport development in the 1970s which had already been foreseen by the Ruler of Dubai and plans for a new Terminal, runways and taxiways capable of coping with international flights. The construction of a new terminal building consisting of a three storey building 110 metres long and included an enclosed floor area of 13,400 square metres. A new 28 metre control tower was also constructed.

Expansion continued in the early 1970s including ILS Category II equipment, lengthening existing runway to 12,500 ft (3,810 m), installation of a non-directional beacon (NDB), diesel generators, taxiways, etc. This work made handling the Boeing 747 and Concorde possible. Several runway and apron extensions were carried out through the decade to meet growing demand.


The opening of Terminal 2 in 1998 saw the first step of phase 1 of the new development master plan launched in 1997. As the second stage, Concourse 1 opened in April 2000 under the name of Sheikh Rashid Terminal. The concourse is 0.8 km (0.5 miles) in length and connects to the check-in area by a 0.3 km (0.19 miles) underground tunnel containing moving walkway (conveyor belt / travelators). It also contains a hotel, business centre, health club, exchanges, dining and entertainment facilities, internet services, medical center, post office, prayer room.

The next step was the reconfiguration of the runway system, already part of phase 2, as well as aprons and taxiways were also expanded and strengthened in 2003-2004. In addition, as part of the development the opening of the Dubai Flower Centre occurred in 2005. The airport saw the need for this as the city is a flower hub for import and export of flowers and the airport required a specialist facility since these products need special conditions.

Construction of Terminal 3 began in 2004 as next stage of phase 2 of the development, with an estimated cost of around $4.55 billion. Originally planned for completion in 2006, the date was delayed by two years. On 30 May 2008, a topping out ceremony for the terminal was conducted. The terminal became operational on 14 October 2008, with Emirates Airline (EK2926) from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, being the first flight to arrive at the new terminal, and EK843 to Doha, Qatar being the first departing flight.

The new precision category 2 Approach and Runway Lighting System was commissioned. The construction of the Airport Fire Station and the installation of the Generators were completed in December and was fully operational in March 1972. The ruler also commissioned and inaugurated the Long-range Surveillance System on 19 June 1973.

The next phase of development was the second runway, which was completed three months ahead of schedule and opened in April 1984. This runway, located 360 metres north of the existing runway and parallel to it and is equipped with the latest meteorological, airfield lighting and instrument landing systems to give the airport a Category II classification. Also several extensions and upgrades of terminal facilities and supporting systems were carried out. On 23 December 1980 the airport became ordinary member of the Airports Council International (ACI).

During the 1980s, Dubai was a stopping point for airlines such as Air India, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and others travelling between Asia and Europe that needed a refuelling point in the Persian Gulf. This use was made redundant with the advent of longer-range aircraft introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s such as the Airbus A340, the Boeing 747-400 and the Boeing 777 series aircraft, which had the range to fly between Europe and Southeast Asia nonstop.

The terminal increases the airport’s maximum passenger capacity annually by 43 million, bringing the total annual capacity up to 60 million passengers.

With the arrival of the Airbus A380, the airport put into place modifications works costing $230 million. These included the building of 29 gates capable of handling the large aircraft, five of which are in Terminal 3, and 2 which are in Terminal 1. Other important projects at the airport include the next stage of the phase 2 development, which includes the construction of Concourse 3. This will be a smaller version of Concourse 2, which is connected to Terminal 3. Construction has already begun and is expected to be completed within two years, with plans to open by late 2011.

However, recent communications predict a further increase to 80 million passengers with additional reassessments of existing capacities. In 2009, Terminal 2 expanded its facilities to handle 5 million (increase2 million) passengers annually, taking the airport’s total capacity to 62 million passengers. The Department of Civil Aviation has also said that Terminal 2 will continuously be upgraded and expanded to bring the total capacity of the airport from the initial 75 million passengers to 80 million passenger capacity by 2012.

The Cargo Mega Terminal, which will have the capacity to handle 3 million tonnes of cargo a year, is a major development; it is going to be built in the long term. Completion for the Mega terminal is expected to be no later than 2018. Terminal 2 will be completely redeveloped to match the status of the other two terminals. With all of these projects completed by 2012, the airport expects to be able of handling at least 75-80 million passengers and over 5 million tonnes of cargo.

The airport’s landside facilities went under a modification to allow two stations to be built of the Red Line of Dubai Metro. One station was constructed at Terminal 1 and the other at Terminal 3; both already operational. The line was launched on 9 September 2009, and opened in phases over the next year.

The second Green Line of the Dubai Metro will pass at the Airport Free Zone, and will serve the airport’s north-eastern area with the Terminal 2 from mid-2011.

The proposed 52 kilometers Purple Line will link Dubai International airport and Al Maktoum International Airport, which is currently being built at Jebel Ali.

When the full expansion program will be completed by 2011, the airport will have three terminals and three concourses, two cargo mega terrminals, an airport free zone, an expo centre with three large exhibition halls, a major aircraft maintenance hub and a flower centre to handle perishable goods.

Air traffic

  • Emirates Airline is the largest airline operating at the airport, with an all-wide-body fleet of over 140 Airbus and Boeing aircraft based at Dubai, providing scheduled services to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand. It operates exclusively from Terminal 3 and part of Terminal 1.
  • Emirates SkyCargo, a subsidiary of Emirates, operates scheduled all-cargo services between Dubai and the rest of the world.
  • Flydubai, a new low-cost airline planning to operate over 50 aircraft on scheduled passenger services to and from Dubai, to the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South Asia. It operates from Terminal 2.

Recreational flying to Dubai is catered for by the Dubai Aviation Club, which undertakes flying training for private pilots and provides facilities for private owners.

The Government of Dubai provides short and long range search and rescue services, police support, medical evacuation and general purpose flights for the airport and all VIP flights to the airport.


Dubai International Airport was conceptualised to function as Dubai’s primary airport and the region’s busiest for the foreseeable future without the need for relocation or the building of another airport when passenger figures increased. The area was chosen near to Dubai, to attract passengers from the city of Dubai, rather than travel to the busier Sharjah International Airport. The planned location originally was Jebel Ali.

The original master plan for the existing airport initially involved a dual-terminal and one runway configuration over two phases with provisions for another two passenger terminals in the near future. Phase 1 included the construction for the first passenger terminal, the first runway, 70 aircraft parking bays, support facilities and structures, including a large maintenance hangar, the first fire station, workshops and administrative offices, an airfreight complex, two cargo agents’ buildings, in-flight catering kitchens and a 78 m (256 ft) control tower. Construction for the second phase would commence immediately after the completion of Phase 1 and include the second runway, 50 new aircraft parking bays in addition to the existing 70 bays, a second fire station and a third cargo agent building.

The third phase included construction of a new terminal (now the parts of Terminal 1’s main building and Concourse 1) and an additional 60 parking bays, as well as new aircraft maintenance facility. then, in the early 2000s a new master plan was introduced.

Air traffic control tower

The air traffic control tower (ATC) was constructed as part of phase two of the then-development plan.


Dubai International Airport has four terminals altogether. Terminal 1 has one concourse, Terminal 2 is set apart from the other two main buildings and Terminal 3 is divided into Concourse 2 and 3. The cargo terminal is capable of handling 3 million tonnes of cargo annually and a general aviation terminal (GAT) is located close by.

Passenger terminals

Dubai Airport currently has three passenger terminals. Terminals 1 and 3 are directly connected with a common transit area, with airside passengers being able to move freely between the terminals without going through immigration, whilst Terminal 2 is built on the opposite end of the airport. For transiting passengers, a shuttle service runs between the terminals, with a journey time of around 20 minutes from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1, and 30 minutes to Terminal 3.

Situated beside Terminal 2 is the Executive Flights Terminal, which has its own check-in facilities for premium passengers and where transportation to aircraft in any of the other terminals is by personal buggy.

All four terminals currently have a handling capacity of around 62 million passengers a year. Capacity will rise again to at least 80 million passengers a year when expansion works to Concourse 3 are complete by late 2011.

Terminals 1 and 3 cater to international passengers, whilst Terminal 2 is for budget passengers and passengers flying to the Sub-Continent and Persian Gulf region; Terminals 1 and 3 handle 90% of the travellers; and the Executive Flights terminal are for the higher end travellers and important guests.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 has an overall capacity of 30 million passengers. It is used by 75 airlines and is connected to Concourse 1, the so-called, 1 km (0.62 mi) long Sheikh Rashid Terminal by an underground, 300 m (980 ft) long tunnel.

Terminal 1 offers 221 check in counters, with a separate section for first and business class passengers.

In arrivals there are 40 passport control desks and 14 baggage claim belts.

The Terminal was originally built to handle 21 million passengers, however with the extreme over congestion at the terminal, the airport was forced to expand the terminal to 30 million with the opening of 28 remote gates, 9 million. Over the years, more mobile gates were added to the airport bringing the total as of 2010 to 48.

Concourse 1

Concourse 1, part of Terminal 1, was opened in 2000 and it used to be the main concourse at Dubai International before Concourse 2 in Terminal 3 opened. It incorporates over 60 gates, including 32 air bridges and 48 remote gates located at a lower level of the terminal. The gates are labelled 101 – 150 in Terminal 1.

The concourse includes over 25 food and beverage cafes and restaurants, with the Food Court being located on the Departures Level. Also located in the concourse is a 78 deluxe 5 star hotel with 6 junior suites and 2 royal suites, a business centre, a health club, a 5,400 m2 (58,000 sq ft) duty-free shopping facility. Other facilities include prayer rooms, and a medical centre. Emirates continues to maintain a presence in Concourse 1, operating 12 gates there as well as the Emirates first Class and Business Class Lounges at the Terminal. Other airline lounges include the Gulf Air, British Airways, KLM and the Star Alliance have their own dedicated lounges.

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 was built in 1998 and has a capacity of 5 million as of 2009, after several, decent reconstructions. It is mainly used by smaller airlines operating in the Persian Gulf region. Most flights operate to Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The terminal was also being expanded as in recent years it has become extremely congested and overcrowded, used by approximately 26 airlines and offering 36 check in counters.

In June 2009, Terminal 2 became the hub of Flydubai, and the terminal houses the airline’s corporate head office.

Terminal 2 has undergone a major refurbishment recently, extending check-in and boarding facilities, changing the interior and exterior décor and offering more dining choices to passengers. Capacity was increased to 5 million, 2 million. The terminal has now increased the number of facilities available to passengers. Check-in counters have increased to 36. The boarding area has been transformed into a more spacious seating area, with more natural light. Also the new open boarding gates allow several flights to board simultaneously, considerably improving both passenger and aircraft movements.

The Dubai duty-free shopping area covers 1,400 m2 (15,000 sq ft) in departures and 50 m2 (540 sq ft) in arrivals. The 3,437 m2 (37,000 sq ft) extension included a larger arrivals hall as well.

Terminal 3

The partly underground Terminal 3 was built at a cost of US$4.5 billion, exclusively for Emirates and will have a capacity of 43 million passengers once fully complete. The terminal will have 5 Airbus A380 gates at Concourse 2, and will have 18 at Concourse 3.

Terminal 3 is the largest building in the world by floor space, with over 1,500,000 m2 (370 acres) of space, currently capable of handling 27 million passengers in a year. Once fully operational, Terminal 3 will have an annual capacity of 43 million passengers. A large part is located under the taxiway area and is directly connected to Concourse 2: the departure and arrival halls in the new structure are 10 m (33 ft) beneath the airport’s apron. It has been operational since 14 October 2008, and opened in four phases to avoid collapse of baggage handling and other IT systems.

The main building of the Terminal contains 82 moving walkways, 97 escalators, eight skytrains (4 each at Arrivals and Departures), 157 elevators, and 27 truck lifts.

The building includes a multi level underground structure, first and business class lounges, restaurants, 180 check-in counters and 2,600 car-parking spaces. The terminal offers more than double the previous retail area of concourse 1, by adding about 4,800 m2 (52,000 sq ft) and Concourse 2’s 10,700 m2 (115,000 sq ft) of shopping facilities.

The baggage handling system – largest system and also the deepest in the world – has a capacity to handle 8,000 bags per hour. The system includes 21 screening injection points, 49 make-up carousals, 90 km of conveyor belts capable of handling 15,000 items per hour at a speed of 27kmh, and 4,500 early baggage storage positions.

In departures there are 126 check-in counters for economy class passengers, and 36 for first and business class passengers. Also, there are 18 self service kiosks, 3 lounges for unaccompanied minors, 38 counters and 12 e-gates for Economy class passengers and 10 counters and 4 e-gates for First & Business class at immigration.

In arrivals, the terminal contains 52 immigration counters, 14 baggage carousels, and 12 e-gates (Electronic Passport Control System) used at all entry point into the United Arab Emirates. There are also 4 baggage carousels for oversized luggage.

The car park includes 1,870 car spaces, 163 car rental spaces, 44 Emirates bus spaces, a check-in hall for baggage with an area of 4,500 m2 (48,000 sq ft), a mosque with an area 950 m2 (10,200 sq ft) and 18 check-in counters. The entire car park has a total area of 177,500 m2 (1,911,000 sq ft).

On September 7, 2010, Terminal 3 saw its 50 millionth passenger pass through the terminal. Since opening in October 2008, the terminal has handled more than 197,920 flight movements (departures and arrivals), 50 million passengers and some 70 million pieces of luggage. Currently some 85,000 passengers pass through this terminal every day.

Concourse 2

Concourse 2 is directly connected to terminal 3, and is dedicated exclusively to Emirates. The total built up area of the concourse itself is 670,000 m2 (7,200,000 sq ft). The concourse is 924 m (3,031 ft) long, 90.8 m (298 ft) wide (at mid point) and 39.5 m (130 ft) high. The terminal has 10 floors (4 basement, Ground Floor, and 5 above floors). The building currently includes a multi-level structure for departures and arrivals and includes 26 gates, labelled 201 – 228 which include 59 passenger loading bridges. It also includes 14 remote stands for Airbus A340 and Boeing 777 aircraft only. The remote gates have 5 boarding lounges. For transit passengers the concourse has 3 transfer areas, and 62 transfer desks.

The concourse also includes the Emirates first and Business class lounges and the Marhaba lounge. The First class lounge has a capacity of 800 passengers and a total area of 6,344 m2 (68,290 sq ft). The Business class lounge has a capacity of 1200 passengers, and a total area of 6,953 m2 (74,840 sq ft). The Marhaba lounge, the smallest lounge at the concourse has a capacity of 140 passengers at a time.

The total retail area at the concourse is 10,700 m2 (115,000 sq ft) completely operated by Dubai Duty Free, and the food court includes 16 restaurants. There are also 2 hotels in the concourse; a 193 room and 14 suite 4 star hotel, and a 38 room and 8 suite 5 star hotel

There is a direct connection to Sheikh Rashid Terminal (Concourse 1) located at the control tower structure through passenger walkways. There is also a 300-room hotel and health club including both five and four star rooms. Concourse 2 includes five aerobridges that are capable of handling the new Airbus A380. Emirates Airline continues to maintain a presence in Concourse 1, operating 12 gates at the concourse as well as the Emirates First Class and Business Class Lounges.

Concourse 3

Concourse 3 will be connected to the two major public levels of Terminal 3 via an automated people mover (APM) in addition to the vehicular and baggage handling system utility tunnels for further transfer. The building, which follows the characteristic shape of Concourse 2, will be 645 m (2,116 ft) long, 90 m (300 ft) wide and 42 m (138 ft) high in the centre from the apron level, and will accommodate 20 aircraft stands, of which 18 will be exclusively for the Airbus A380-800, and 2 for the Boeing 777.

The concourse will include one 4 star hotel and one 5 star hotel, first and business class lounges, and duty-free areas. The total built-up area will be 528,000 m2 (5,680,000 sq ft). Construction began in early 2008, and is expected to be completed by late 2011, handling an additional 15 million passengers a year bringing the total terminals capacity to 43 million, and the entire airport’s to over 80 million passengers annually.

Terminal 4

Planning has begun to bring on Terminal 4 at Dubai International Airport, it was revealed on the day Emirates completed its phased operations at the new Terminal 3, on 14 November 2008.

According to Dubai Airport officials, plans for Terminal 4 had begun and extensions would be made to Terminal 3. The CEO of the airport, Paul Griffiths, was reported to have said that the airport currently has 290 million dirhams that will be spent over the next two years on terminals 1, 2 and 3, making sure they are running to full capacity. The airport is planning to service 70–80 million passengers a year by 2013.

Cargo Mega Terminal

The cargo village at Dubai International Airport is one of the world’s largest and most central cargo hubs, with most of the cargo for Asia and Africa coming through the facility. Forecasts in 2004 for cargo growth predicted that additional major cargo handling facilities were needed to satisfy demands. Plans were put in progress to construct the first stage of the cargo mega terminal, which by 2018 will have the ability to handle three million tons of freight. Phase 1 of the cargo mega terminal was completed by 2004 and the next phase of expansion was scheduled for completion in late 2007. Presently the airport has a cargo capacity of 2.1 million tonnes, and will be expanded to handle 3 million


Dubai Airport has two parallel runways, both 4000m long. Runways, 12R/30L and 12L/30R, each 60 m (200 ft) wide. The runways are equipped with four sets of ILS to guide landing aircraft safely under very poor weather conditions. The runways were recently expanded to accommodate the Airbus A380. In 2009, it was announced that the airport installed a Category III landing system, allowing planes to land in low visibility conditions, such as fog. This system will be the first of its kind in the United Arab Emirates.

Accommodating the Airbus A380

With Dubai-based Emirates Airline being one of the launch customers for the Airbus A380 and also the largest customer, Dubai airport needed to expand its existing facilities to accommodate the very large aircraft. The Department of Civil Aviation spent $120 million in upgrading the two of its terminals and airport infrastructure, including enlarged gate holdrooms, new finger piers, enlarged runway, new airbridges and extended baggage belt carousels from the normal 70 to 90 m (230 to 300 ft).

Dubai airport is also investing $3.5 billion into a new Concourse 3, exclusively for handling Emirates Airline A380’s. This is expected to be completed by late 2012.

With these new carousels in place, the airport does not expect embarking and disembarking passengers and baggage from the A380 to take longer than it does for Boeing 747-400s, which carry significantly fewer passengers. On 16 July 2008, Dubai Airport unveiled the first of 2 specially-built gates capable of handling the giant aircraft. Costing $10 million, the gates or ‘fingers’ enable passengers to get on the upper cabin of the new 555-seater aircraft directly from the gate hold rooms. The hold rooms themselves have been enlarged and appointed to cater for the larger number of passengers flying the A380s. Beside the 2 new gates at Terminal 1, 5 more A380-capable gates were opened at concourse 3 on 14 October 2008.


Passenger services

The airport has over 1,729,020 m2 (18,611,000 sq ft) of space spread between its three main terminals for shopping and eating outlets, with Terminal 3 having the largest amount of retail space at 28,278 m2. The Dubai duty-free shopping area in Terminal 2 covers 1,400 m2 (15,000 sq ft) in departures and 50 m2 (540 sq ft) in arrivals. The 3,437 m2 (37,000 sq ft) extension included a larger arrivals hall as well.

Extensive upgrading work on existing retail areas since 2004 in Terminals 1 and 2 has increased sales. Dubai Duty Free announced annual sales of Dhs3.95 billion (US$1.1 billion) in 2008, representing a 23 per cent increase on the previous year. 2008 saw the operation doubling its retail space from 7,000 square metres to 15,000 square metres with the inauguration of the new Emirates Terminal 3 in October 2008. The Duty Free outstrips other shopping malls in Dubai.

Liquor and perfumes are particularly popular, accounting for over half of total retail sales, followed by watches and tobacco products. The airport enjoys “one of the highest concession revenues per passenger in the world” compared to other major international airports. Dubai Duty Free recorded more than 21 million transactions in 2008. As of August 2009, Dubai Duty Free was the biggest single airport retail operation in the world ahead of London Heathrow and Seoul Incheon airports. According to Generation Research, Dubai Duty Free accounts for 5% of the airport duty-free business and 3% of the wider duty-free and travel-retail global business.

In addition to a wide array of duty-free shops and eating outlets, Dubai Airport has two open-air garden areas. Dubai Airport has numerous business centres located around the airport. Within the international transit area of the interconnected Terminals 1 and 2, internet and games facilities, prayer rooms, showers, spas, gym, swimming pool and a 3 hotels are provided. Various lounge areas are provided, some including children’s play areas or televisions showing news, movie and sport channels.

Aviation services

Ground handling

Ground handling services at Dubai International Airport has been provided by Dnata Ground Handling Services. Services include cargo ramp and technical support services to airlines at Dubai Airport.

Aircraft maintenance

Emirates Engineering, based in Dubai, operates the aircraft maintenance and engine test cell technical facilities at the airport. Emirates Engineering currently provides full support for the Emirates Airline fleet and all the other international operations at the airport.

Current facilities include:

  • Seven aircraft hangars all capable of handling the A380 (currently the largest aircraft hangar in the world)
  • Aircraft painting hangar
  • Aircraft processing plant
  • Aircraft engine run-up facility enclosure
  • Engineering Line Maintenance facility
  • Engine Test Cell
  • Aircraft spare parts stores

Safety and security

The Civil Aviation Authority of Dubai manages the overall safety and security of the airport. Pre-screening takes place in all terminals at the entrance of the airport.

In 2005, an upgrade in screening technology and rising security concerns led to luggage-screening processes being conducted behind closed doors, as opposed to them being done just before check-in previously within public view. Carry-on luggage and personal screening are conducted at the individual departure gates, while check-in luggage are screened in the backrooms and secured before loading. Dubai Airport Police plans to introduce a biometric identification system for access into restricted areas.

In view of the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot, security screening checks have been stepped up on passengers and their hand-carry luggage, as well as checked-in luggage on flights bound for destinations in the United Kingdom and the United States from Dubai.

In early 2007, Dubai Airport introduced a new type of airport screening device which not only detected weapons, but also could screen the passenger for drugs in the blood. With the new system in place, travellers entering Dubai can be jailed for 4 years or more if found in possession (including in the bloodstream and the bottom of the shoes) of illegal drugs (even in quantities as small as 0.001g), including poppy seeds from bagels and prescription and over-the-counter medicines such as codeine.

A senior Dubai judge was quoted on 11 February 2008, by the Dubai City News saying, “These laws help discourage anyone from carrying or using drugs. Even if the amount of illegal drugs found on someone is 0.05 grams, they will be found guilty. The penalty is a minimum four years. The message is clear — drugs will not be tolerated.” A number of travellers have been held pending charge while Dubai authorities test their possessions, blood and urine for any trace of contraband.


Passenger operations

As all passenger traffic out of the airport is international in nature, the three major terminals in operation are equipped with immigration-processing facilities for international travel. Since there are international flights operating out from the airport, the terminals of the airport are equipped with immigration processing facilities and security scanning for all passengers including domestic, and regional passengers. Terminals 1, and 3 handle 95% of the international flights, whilst Terminal 2 mainly caters to regional flights and international flights routed to other airports in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Emirates Airlines operate from only Terminal 3. Conversely, low cost carries such as Flydubai operate flights out of terminal 2.

Passenger growth at the airport has been growing at an average rate of 18%. The airport successfully reached its capacity of 33 million passengers per annum by 2007, however this was still not enough to handle the growing over congestion at the airport. As 2009 the airport’s capacity reached 62 million with the opening of Terminal 3 and expansion of Terminal 2. In 2010 Dubai International Airport’s passenger movements, growth in traffic significally increased, nearly hitting the 41 million passenger mark in 2009. The airport recorded an increase of 9.2% per cent in passenger traffic.

Passenger traffic in between January and Sept 2010 grew by 15.8 percent as 34,838,359 million passengers have passed through Dubai International, compared to 30,091,431 during the corresponding period last year. September saw a 25% rise in passenger traffic compared to 2009. Eastern Europe has been seeing the largest percentage increases (247 percent) since the addition of new routes to Eastern Europe by Emirates in July.


Fueled by high economic growth from Emirates, the airport handled 1,927,520 tonnes of air cargo in 2009, an increase of 5.6% over the 2008 fiscal year, making it the 11th-busiest airfreight hub in the world and the busiest in the Middle East.

The total freight handled between January and September in 2010 reached a total of 1,685,634 tonnes compared to 1,366,881 tonnes during the same period in 2009, up 24%. Cargo volumes grew 11.3 per cent to 187,390 tonnes in August compared to 168,335 tonnes during the same month in 2009. It was the twelfth consecutive month of double-digit growth

Ground transportation


The airport is connected by the road D 89. One of the longest intra-city roads, D 89 begins at the Deira Corniche and runs perpendicular to D 85 (Baniyas Road). From Deira, the road progresses south-eastward towards Dubai International Airport, intersecting with E 311 (Emirates Road) past the airport.


The airport is served by the Dubai Metro, which will operate 2 lines through the airport. The Red Line (Dubai Metro) has a station at Terminal 3, and at Terminal 1. The Metro provides services between 0600 and 2215 everyday except Friday, when it operates between 1300 and 2315. These timings differ during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The stations are located in front of both terminals, and can be accessed directly from the arrivals areas. The Green Line will operate from August 2011, at another station in the Airport Free Zone, from which passengers can connect to Terminal 2.


Dubai Buses operated by RTA run a number of routes to around the city but mainly Deira, available at the Airport Ground Transportation Center and the Arrivals.

Bus stations are situated opposite both Terminal 1, 2, and 3. Local buses 4, 11, 15, 33 and 44 can be used to connect with Terminal 1 and 3, while bus 2 connects with Terminal 2. Dubai International Airport Buses provide air-conditioned transport into the city centre and over 80 hotels in the city.

Coach service is available to major cities and towns is also available to Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Sharjah.


The airport is served by the Government owned Dubai Taxi Agency, which provides 24 hour service at the arrivals in every terminal.