Dubai has opened a passenger terminal at its new Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC), a major development in its long-term plan to build the world's largest airport.
Al Maktoum, which is Dubai's second airport after Dubai International Airport, will have a capacity to handle 160 million passengers annually once it is completed; its current capacity is seven million passengers a year.
Cargo operations at the airport started in 2010, with 36 freight operators operating regularly.
As part of the official inauguration, local dignitaries and aviation officials welcomed the arrival of the first commercial flight, Wizz Air flight W6 2497 arriving from Budapest, Hungary.
The new terminal, which is served by an A380-capable runway, has 64 remote aircraft stands.
Dubai Civil Aviation Authority president and Chairman of Dubai Airports HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum said that the airport will play a vital role in the future development of Dubai as a centre for trade, commerce, transport and logistics and tourism.
"The opening of this facility signals the historic beginning of a long-term plan to build the largest airport in the world to accommodate the tremendous passenger growth and contribute to the continued economic and social development of Dubai," Al Maktoum said.
The development of Al Maktoum International Airport is expected to be completed by 2020. When complete it will have four passenger terminals and five runways.
Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said location, convenience and compact nature of DWC are compelling attributes.
"Airline and customer interest in this airport continues to grow and we hope to announce additional services in the near future," Griffiths said.
Dubai World Central, the location of the airport, is a $32bn economic zone that will include residential, aviation and logistics clusters.
The operator of Al Maktoum Dubai Airports has confirmed operations with three airlines, Wizz Air, Jazeera Airways, and Gulf Air, and is in talks with other interested carriers.
Griffiths added that the new airport is not intended to replace Dubai International, where expansion work is also underway.
"If DXB (Dubai International) is to close, it isn't a decision we have to make probably for the next 30, 40 years," he said.
Image: Al Maktoum International Airport will have a capacity to handle 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo annually once it is completed. Photo: courtesy of Dubai World Central.