Dubai World Central (DWC), also known as Al Maktoum International Airport, embarked on an expansion project undertaken by The Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP), an autonomous entity responsible for the planning and development of Dubai’s airports.

Approved in 2014, the AED120bn ($32.67bn) expansion project is expected to make the Al Maktoum airport the world’s biggest, in terms of size and passenger capacity, by 2050.

It will also ease pressure on the nation’s first airport, Dubai International Airport (DXB), which is expected to witness 100 million passengers by the end of 2020, and has limited scope for further growth.

The expansion is being executed in two phases over the next six to eight years. Upon completion, the airport will be able to handle more than 220 million passengers a year.

Construction on the first phase of the DWC airport expansion began in early 2017 and the terminal expansion project was completed in 2018.

Dubai World Central expansion development phases

The initial phase of the expansion is further divided into two sub-phases, the first of which involved the construction of new terminal facilities, concourses and satellite terminals, as well as the expansion of existing facilities.

The second sub-phase will expand and construct runways, site grading, roads and tunnels.

Dubai World Central passenger terminal expansion

A passenger terminal expansion project was launched in March 2016, and was completed in 2018. It enhanced the terminal’s passenger handling capacity from five million to 26.5 million a year.

The 711,569ft² passenger terminal at DWC Airport was opened in October 2013. It was initially designed to host five million passengers a year, with a possible expansion to seven million.

The expansion project increased the terminal’s built-up area to approximately 1.57 million square feet, and adds new facilities to the arrival and departure areas.

Expansions in the departure area includes commercial zones and offices, as well as a new check-in hall with 64 counters and an additional ten counters for business class passengers. A new immigration hall with 55 border control counters is constructed for visa and passenger utilities.

The project also builds 12 new boarding lounges and expands immigration transfer and security areas.

A new baggage screening area and three new carousels were added to the arrivals hall at the existing baggage reclaim area.

The expanded terminal now features a total of 24 boarding gates, seven baggage reclaim carousels, 104 check-in desks and 2,542 parking spaces.

Dubai World Central phase one expansion  details

The phase one expansion includes the construction of two parallel, 4.5km-long Code F runways with enough distance between them to enable simultaneous operations. The runways will also feature an instrument landing system (Cat IIIB), allowing them to operate under low visibility conditions.

Offering a capacity of 35 million passengers a year, a new 165,000m² terminal will be constructed towards the west end of the airport.

Two 385,000m² satellite concourses with an annual capacity of 65 million passengers will also be constructed. The concourses will feature 200 wide-body aircraft contact stands, with 100 each for Code E and Code F aircraft.

Six new train tracks will be built to connect the terminals with the concourses, with two each for departures, arrivals and transfers. Three stations will be constructed at each concourse, with another built at the west terminal.

Dubai World Central phase two expansion details

The second phase will see the construction of two more runways with similar dimensions and capabilities, increasing the total number of runways at the airport to five.

A new terminal will be constructed towards the east side of the airport. Two new concourses, each with a passenger handling capacity of 65 million a year, will also be constructed.

A further six train tracks and seven stations will connect the terminals and the concourses.

“After the project’s completion, the airport will be able to handle more than 220 million passengers a year.”

Technology installation at DWC airport

Biometrics and smart passenger tracking will be used during the expansion to facilitate seamless passenger movement through the terminals.

Financing for Al Maktoum International Airport

Uxport credit agency UK Export Finance (UKEF) issued $2bn export guarantees for the airport expansion in late 2014.

Contractors involved

The construction contract for the passenger terminal expansion has been awarded to Al Jaber LEGT Engineering & Contracting (ALEC), a company based in the UAE.

The expansion was designed by Leslie Jones Architecture.

ALEC subcontracted AE Arma-Elektropanç to perform all mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) works for the passenger terminal building expansion.