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Dubai International Airport


Dubai International Airport

Dubai International Airport
مطار دبي الدولي
Airport type Public
Owner Government of Dubai
Operator Dubai Airports Company
Serves Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Location Al Garhoud
Hub for
Time zone UAE Standard Time (UTC+04:00)
Elevation AMSL 62 ft / 19 m
OMDB is located in United Arab Emirates
Location in the UAE
Direction Length Surface
m ft
12L/30R 4,000 13,123 Asphalt
12R/30L 4,450 14,600 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Passengers 66,431,533
Cargo (metric tonnes) 2,435,567
Sources: UAE AIP,[1] ACI[2]

Dubai International Airport (ICAO: OMDB) (Arabic: مطار دبي الدولي‎) is an international airport serving Dubai. It is a major airline hub in the Middle East, and is the main airport of Dubai.[3] It is situated in the Al Garhoud district, 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km; 2.9 mi) east[1] of Dubai.[4] The airport is operated by the Dubai Airports Company and is the home base of Dubai's international airlines, Emirates, FlyDubai and Emirates SkyCargo; the Emirates hub is the largest airline hub in the Middle East; Emirates now handles 64 per cent of all passenger traffic, and accounts for about 50 per cent of all aircraft movements at the airport.[5] Dubai Airport is also the base for low-cost carrier, flydubai which handles 10.7 per cent of passenger traffic at DXB.[6] The airport became a secondary hub for Qantas in April 2013.[7] The airport consists of three terminals and has a total capacity of 80 million passengers annually. Terminal 3 is the largest building in the world by floor space and the largest airport terminal in the world.[8] As of February 2014, there are over 7,000 weekly flights operated by 140 airlines to over 230 destinations across every continent except Antarctica,[9] one of only six airports outside Europe doing so, the other five being DOH, AUH, JFK, YYZ and JNB.

Dubai Airport is spread over an area of 8,500 acres (3,400 ha) of land. In 2013 DXB handled a record 66.4 million in passenger traffic, a 15.2 per cent increase over 2012.[10] This made it the 7th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic[11] and the 2nd busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic.[12] In addition to being an important passenger traffic hub, the airport became the 5th busiest cargo airport in world in 2013, handling 2.44 million tonnes of cargo.[13]

Dubai International is an important contributor to the Dubai economy, employing approximately 90,000 people, and indirectly supports over 250,000 jobs in Dubai and contributes over US$22 billion to the GDP, which represents around 19 per cent of total employment in Dubai, and 28 per cent of Dubai’s GDP[14]. It is predicted that by 2020 the economic contribution of Dubai’s aviation sector will rise to 32 per cent of Dubai’s GDP and support over 373,000 jobs.[15]


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 four 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.[16]

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.[17]


Dubai Airport fire station and terminal/control tower seen from the landside, early 1965.
The first jet aircraft to land on the new runway at Dubai Airport in 1965 was a Comet from Middle East Airlines.

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.[18]

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.[19]

Operations and statistics
Passenger movements
2000 12,321,000 2007 34,340,000
2001 13,508,073 2008 37,441,440
2002 15,973,391 2009 40,901,752
2003 18,062,344 2010 47,180,628
2004 21,711,883 2011 50,977,960
2005 23,607,507 2012 57,684,550
2006 28,788,726 2013 66,431,533
Airfreight movements in tonnes
2000 562,591 2007 1,668,505
2001 610,867 2008 1,824,991
2002 764,193 2009 1,927,520
2003 928,758 2010 2 270 498
2004 1,111,647 2011 2,199,750
2005 1,333,014 2012 2,279,6240
2006 1,410,963 2013 2,435,567
Aircraft movements
2000 141,281 2007 260,530
2001 141,281 2008 n/a
2002 134,165 2009 N/A
2003 148,334 2010 292,662
2004 168,511 2011 326,317
2005 195,820 2012 344,245
2006 217,1652 2013 369,953
Passenger (current) 58,000,000
Passenger (ultimate) 80,000,000
Cargo (current) 2.2m tonnes
Cargo (ultimate) 2.5m tonnes
Apron (current) 189
Number of destinations
International (air) 239
International (water) 0
Number of airlines
International 140+

The inauguration was on 15 May 1966 and was marked by the visits of the first big jets of Middle East Airlines and Kuwait Airways Comets.[20]

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 m (360 ft) long and included an enclosed floor area of 13,400 m2 (144,000 sq ft). A new 28 m (92 ft) control tower was also constructed.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24]

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 m (1,180 ft) 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 an ordinary member of the Airports Council International (ACI).[25]

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 availability of Russian airspace due to the breakup of the Soviet Union and 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.[26]


Azerbaijan Airlines Boeing 707-300 parked at a remote stand in DXB (1995).

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 (0.50 mi) in length and connects to the check-in area by a 0.3 km (0.19 mi) underground tunnel containing moving walkways (conveyor belt/travelators). It also contains a hotel, business centre, health club, exchanges, dining and entertainment facilities, internet services, medical centre, post office, prayer room. The next step was the reconfiguration of the runway system, already part of phase 2, and aprons and taxiways were expanded and strengthened in 2003–2004. In addition, the Dubai Flower Centre opened in 2005 as part of the development. The airport saw the need for this as the city is a hub for import and export of flowers and the airport required a specialist facility since flowers need special conditions.[27][28]

Construction of Terminal 3 began in 2004 as the next stage of phase 2 of the development, with an estimated cost of around $4.55 billion. Completion was originally planned for 2006, but was delayed by two years.[29]

On 30 May 2008, a topping out ceremony 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 terminal increased the airport's maximum passenger capacity annually by 47 million, bringing the total annual capacity up to 75 million passengers.[30]

With the arrival of the Airbus A380, the airport made modifications costing $230 million. These included the building of 29 gates capable of handling the large aircraft, five of which are in Terminal 3, and two 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.

Also as part of the expansion, the airport is now able to handle at least 75 million (an increase of 19 million) passengers per annum with the opening of Concourse 3, which is part of Terminal 3. 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 (an increase of 2 million) passengers annually, taking the airport's total capacity to 62 million passengers. The Department of Civil Aviation has 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.[31]

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 of 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 2013, the airport expects to be able of handling at least 75–80 million passengers and over 5 million tonnes of cargo.[32]

Aircraft parked at concourse C. Concourse C has a capacity of 33 million passengers

The airport's landside facilities were modified to allow construction of two stations for the Red Line of Dubai Metro. One station was built at Terminal 1 and the other at Terminal 3; both are in operation. The line was launched on 9 September 2009, and opened in phases over the next year.[33] The second Metro line, the Green Line, runs near the Airport Free Zone, and has served the airport's north-eastern area with the Terminal 2 from September 2011.[34]

The proposed 52 km (32 mi) Purple Line will link Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport, which is currently being built at Jebel Ali.[35]

With phase 2 of DXB's expansion plan complete, the airport now has three terminals and three concourses, two cargo mega terminals, 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.[31] A phase 3 which has been included in the master-plan involves the construction of a new Concourse 4.

The airport revealed its future plans in May 2011, which involve construction of a new Concourse D for all airlines currently operating from concourse C. Concourse D is expected to bring the total capacity of the airport to over 90 million passengers, and will be operating by 2016. The plan also involves Emirates solely operating from Concourse C along with Concourse A and B which it is already operating.[36]

In September 2012, Dubai Airports changed the names of concourses to make it easier for passengers to navigate the airport. Concourse 1, in which over 100 international airlines operate, became Concourse C. Concourse 2 became Concourse B and Concourse 3 became Concourse A. The gates in Terminal 2 have changed and are numbered F1 to F6. The remaining alpha-numeric sequences are being reserved for future airport facilities that are part of the Dubai Airports' $7.8 billion expansion programme, including Concourse D.[37]

Dubai's government has announced the construction of a new airport in Jebel Ali, named Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport. It is expected to be the second largest airport in the world by physical size, though not by passenger metrics. It opened 27 June 2010,[51] however construction is not expected to finish until 2017. The airport is expected to be able to accommodate up to 160 million passengers.[52] There has been an official plan to build the Dubai Metro Purple Line to connect Al Maktoum International Airport to Dubai International Airport; construction is set to begin in 2012. There have been rumours that the Purple Line is on hold, or even cancelled.[53]

Growth in traffic at Dubai International Airport[54][55]
Airlines 1986 1990 1994 1998 2002 2006 2010
Passenger movements 3.775 million 4.347 million 6.299 million 9.732 million 15.973 million 28.788 million 47.181 million
Airfreight movements (tonnes) 99,338 144,282 243,092 431,777 764,193 1.410 million 2.19 million
City links 19 36 54 110 170 195 210
Weekly scheduled flights N/A N/A N/A 2,350 2,850 4,550
Airlines N/A N/A N/A 80 102 113 135

Air traffic

Main airlines based at DXB

Emirates operations at Dubai International
  • Emirates Airline is the largest airline operating at the airport, with an all-wide-body fleet of over 200 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.[56]
  • Emirates SkyCargo, a subsidiary of Emirates, operates scheduled all-cargo services between Dubai and the rest of the world.[57]
  • 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.[58]
  • Qantas uses DXB as a secondary hub after moving its hub for European flights to Dubai and entering an extensive commercial relationship with Emirates in 2013. Qantas flies daily A380 services from both Sydney and Melbourne to London via Dubai, meaning that together Emirates and Qantas offer 98 weekly services between Australia and Dubai.[59]

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.[60]

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.[61]


Length 25,300 m (83,000 ft)
Width 30 m (98 ft)
Passenger terminal buildings
Floor area 1,972,474 m2 (21,231,530 sq ft)
Handling capacity c. 75 million passengers[64]
Parking bays 74 (aerobridge)
0 (contact)
105 (remote)
Terminal One + (Concourse C)[65]
Opened 1 April 2000 (operational)
Floor area 246,474 m2 (2,653,020 sq ft)
Handling capacity 33 million passengers
Parking bays 28 (aerobridge)
48 (remote)
Concourse D[66]
Opened 2015
Floor area 150,000 m2 (1,600,000 sq ft)
Handling capacity To Be Confirmed
Parking bays 16(aerobridge)
Terminal Two[67]
Opened May 1 1998 (operational)
Floor area 15,000 m2 (160,000 sq ft)
Handling capacity 10 million passengers
Parking bays 6
43 (remote)
Terminal Three + (Concourse A and B)[68]
Opened 14 October 2008 (operational)
Floor area 1,713,000 m2 (18,440,000 sq ft) (515,000 m2 (5,540,000 sq ft) - Terminal 3 + 528,000 m2 (5,680,000 sq ft) - Concourse A + 670,000 m2 (7,200,000 sq ft) - Concourse B)
Handling capacity 47million passengers (Concourse A -19 million) and (Concourse B - 28 million)
Parking bays 46 (aerobridge)
27 (remote)
VIP Pavilion
Opened January 2005 (operational)
Floor area 17,000 m2 (180,000 sq ft)
Handling capacity N/A passengers
Parking bays 8 (remote)
Aircraft parked at remote stands at DXB

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.[69]

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 87 m (285 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.[70]

The third phase included construction of a new terminal (now the parts of Terminal 1's main building and Concourse C) and an additional 60 parking bays, as well as new aircraft maintenance facility. Then, in the early 2000s a new master plan was introduced which began the development of the current concourses and terminal infrastructure.[71]

Paul Griffiths(Dubai Airports’ CEO) in his interview with Vision (Magazine), cited plans to build infrastructure to support the expansion of Emirates and budget airline Flydubai, and ascend the ranks of global aviation hubs.[72]

Airport traffic control tower

The airport traffic control tower (ATCT) is an 87 m (285 ft) control tower was constructed as part of phase two of the then-development plan.[73]


Dubai International Airport has four terminals. Terminal 1 has one concourse, Terminal 2 is set apart from the other two main buildings and Terminal 3 is divided into Concourse A and B. The cargo terminal is capable of handling 3 million tonnes of cargo annually and a general aviation terminal (GAT) is close by.[74] In 2015, a fourth concourse will open (Concourse D) and will see all airlines currently operating from concourse C shift operations there. Thus, concourse A, B, and C will become part of Terminal 3 and concourse D will be part of Terminal 1.

A aerial view of concourse B and C. Concourse A (not shown) is connected to Terminal 3 via an Automated People Mover. Concourse D will also be connected to Terminal 1 via an APM when complete in 2015.
Aircraft parked at Concourse C before most of Emirates' operations moved to Concourse B. Emirates will take over operations of concourse C in 2015 once all airlines currently operating from concourse C move to concourse D.
Interior of Concourse C. In 2013 Dubai Airports announced a renovation program of concourse C and Terminal 1 expected to be completed in 2015.

Passenger terminals

Dubai Airport 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, while Terminal 2 is on the opposite side 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.[75] Passengers in Terminal 3 who need to transfer between concourse A and the rest of the Terminal have to travel via an Automated People Mover. In 2015 when concourse D is complete, passengers will be required to use another Automated People Mover to connect to concourse D from Terminal 1.[76]

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.[77]

The three passenger terminals have a total handling capacity of around 80 million passengers a year.[78]

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 85 per cent of the passenger traffic; and the Executive Flights terminal are for the higher end travellers and important guests.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 has a capacity of 38 million passengers. It is used by over a 100 airlines and is connected to Concourse C, the so-called, 1 km (0.62 mi) long Sheikh Rashid Terminal by an underground, 300 m (980 ft) long tunnel. It is spread over an area of 520,000 m2 (5,600,000 sq ft) and offers 221 check in counters.[79]

The Terminal was originally built to handle 24 million passengers, however with extreme congestion at the terminal, the airport was forced to expand the terminal to accommodate 38 million people with the opening of 28 remote gates, an increase of 12 million. Over the years, more mobile gates were added to the airport bringing the total as of 2010 to 28.

In 2013, Dubai Airports announced a major renovation for Terminal 1 and concourse C. The renovations include upgraded baggage systems, replacement of check-in desks, and a more spacious departure hall. Arrivals will also see improvements to help reduce waiting times. The renovation is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.[80]

Concourse C

Concourse C, part of Terminal 1, was opened in 2000 and used to be the largest concourse at Dubai International Airport before Concourse B in Terminal 3 opened. It incorporates 50 gates, including 28 air bridges and 22 remote gates located at a lower level of the terminal. The gates are labelled C1 – C50.[37]

The concourse includes over 17 food and beverage cafes and restaurants, with the food court being located on the Departures Level. Also located in the concourse is a 5 star hotel, and a 5,400 m2 (58,000 sq ft) duty-free shopping facility. Other facilities include prayer rooms, and a medical centre.[81] Emirates continues to maintain a presence in Concourse C, operating 12 gates there as well as the Emirates first Class and Business Class Lounges at the Terminal.[82] Other airline lounges include the Gulf Air, British Airways, KLM and the Star Alliance have their own dedicated lounges.

Concourse D

Planning begun for further expansion of Dubai Airport, with the construction of Terminal 4, it was revealed on the day Emirates completed its phased operations at the new Terminal 3, on 14 November 2008.[83] According to Dubai Airport officials, plans for Terminal 4 had begun and extensions would be made to Terminal 3. These are required to bring the capacity of the airport to 80–90 million passengers a year by 2015.[84]

In May 2011, Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports revealed the Dubai Airport masterplan. It involves the construction of a Concourse D (previously Terminal 4). With a capacity of 15 million, it would bring the total capacity of the airport to 90 million passengers by 2018 – an increase of 15 million. It also will see Emirates take over the operation at Concourse C, along with concourse A and B which it will already be operating. All remaining airlines will shift to Concourse D, or move to Al Maktoum International Airport. The airport projects that international passenger and cargo traffic will increase at an average annual growth rate of 7.2 per cent and 6.7 per cent respectively and that by 2020 passenger numbers at Dubai International Airport will reach 98.5 million and cargo volumes will top 4.1 million tonnes.[85]

Terminal 2

FlyDubai aircraft parked at Terminal 2 aircraft stands

Terminal 2 built in 1998 has an area of 47,000 m2 (510,000 sq ft) and has a capacity of 10 million as of 2013, after several, decent reconstructions and a major expansion in 2012 which saw capacity double. It is used by over 50 airlines, mainly operating in the Persian Gulf region. Most flights operate to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, India and Afghanistan.

In June 2009, Terminal 2 became the hub of Flydubai,[86] and the terminal houses the airline's corporate head office.[87]

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 allow for 10 million passengers, an increase of 5 million.[88]

The terminal has now increased the number of facilities available to passengers. Check-in counters have increased to 37. The boarding area is more spacious, with more natural light. Also the new open boarding gates allow several flights to board simultaneously, improving passenger and aircraft movements. There are a total of 43 remote stands at the terminal.

The Dubai duty-free shopping area covers 2,400 m2 (26,000 sq ft) in departures and 540 m2 (5,800 sq ft) in arrivals. The 3,600 m2 (39,000 sq ft) extension included a larger arrivals hall as well.

Terminal 3

The partly underground Terminal 3 was built at a cost of US$8 billion, exclusively for Emirates and has a capacity of 47 million passengers. The terminal has 5 Airbus A380 gates at Concourse B, and 18 at Concourse A.[89] It was announced on 6 September 2012 that Terminal 3 would no longer be Emirates exclusive, as Emirates and Qantas had set up an extensive code sharing agreement. Qantas would be the second and only one of two airlines to fly in and out of Terminal 3. This deal also allows Qantas to use the A380 dedicated concourse.[90]

Upon completion, Terminal 3 was the largest building in the world by floor space, with over 1,713,000 m2 (18,440,000 sq ft) of space, capable of handling 60 million passengers in a year. A large part is located under the taxiway area and is directly connected to Concourse B: the departure and arrival halls in the new structure are 10 m (33 ft) beneath the airport's apron. Concourse A is connected to the terminal via an APM.[91] It has been operational since 14 October 2008, and opened in four phases to avoid collapse of baggage handling and other IT systems.[92]

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 C, by adding about 4,800 m2 (52,000 sq ft) and Concourse B's 10,700 m2 (115,000 sq ft) of shopping facilities.[93]

In arrivals, the terminal contains 72 immigration counters, and 14 baggage carousels.[94][95] The baggage handling system – the 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 carousels, 90 km (56 mi) of conveyor belts capable of handling 15,000 items per hour at a speed of 27 km/h (17 mph), and 4,500 early baggage storage positions.[96] The car park includes 1,870 car spaces, 168 car rental spaces, and 45 Emirates bus spaces.[97]

Concourse A

Concourse A part of Terminal 3 has a capacity of 19 million passengers and is 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 concourse opened on 2 January 2013 and was built at a cost of US$3.3 billion.[98] The building, which follows the characteristic shape of Concourse B, 924 m (3,031 ft) long, 91 m (299 ft) wide and 40 m (130 ft) high in the centre from the apron level, and accommodates 20 air bridge gates, of which all are capable of handling the Airbus A380-800.[99][100] There is also 6 remote lounges for passengers departing on flights parked at 13 remote stands. The gates in concourse A are labelled A1- A24.[37][101]

The concourse includes one 4 star hotel and one 5 star hotel, first and business class lounges, and duty-free areas. The total built-up area is 540,000 m2 (5,800,000 sq ft).[102] The concourse allows for multi-level boarding and boasts the largest first and business class lounges in the world. Each lounge has its own dedicated floor offering direct aircraft access from the lounges.[103] The total amount of retail space at the concourse is 11,000 m2 (120,000 sq ft), and there is also a total of 14 cafe's and restaurants.

Concourse B

Concourse B is directly connected to terminal 3, and is dedicated exclusively to Emirates. The total built up area of the concourse itself is 675,000 m2 (7,270,000 sq ft). The concourse is 945 m (3,100 ft) long, 90.8 m (298 ft) wide (at midpoint) and 49.5 m (162 ft) high. The terminal has 10 floors (4 basements, a ground floor, and 5 above floors). The building currently includes a multi-level structure for departures and arrivals and includes 32 gates, labelled B1- B32.[37] The concourse has 26 air bridge gates and 5 boarding lounges for 14 remote stands that are for the Airbus A340 and Boeing 777 aircraft only. For transit passengers the concourse has 3 transfer areas, and 62 transfer desks.[105]

The concourse also includes the Emirates first and Business class lounges and the Marhaba lounge. The First class lounge has a capacity of 1,800 passengers and a total area of 12,600 m2 (136,000 sq ft). The Business class lounge has a capacity of 3,000 passengers, and a total area of 13,500 m2 (145,000 sq ft). The Marhaba lounge, the smallest lounge at the concourse has a capacity of 300 passengers at a time.[106]

The total retail area at the concourse is 120,000 m2 (1,300,000 sq ft) completely operated by Dubai Duty Free, and the food court includes 18 restaurants.[107] There are also 3 hotels in the concourse; a 5 star hotel, and a 4 star hotel.[108]

There is a direct connection to Sheikh Rashid Terminal (Concourse C) 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 B includes five aerobridges that are capable of handling the new Airbus A380.[109] Emirates Airline continues to maintain a presence in Concourse C, operating 12 gates at the concourse as well as the Emirates First Class and Business Class Lounges.[82]

Al Majalis VIP Pavilion and Dubai Executive Flight Terminal

Dubai Royal Air Wing is the main airline operating from the VIP Pavilion

The AL Majalis VIP pavilion, was exclusively built for the Dubai Royal Air Wing and opened on 1 July 2008. The entire facility is a 3,400 m2 (37,000 sq ft) terminal, and includes a Royal Majlis, and an antenna farm. It also includes eight aircraft hangars with a total built up area of 69,598 m2 (749,150 sq ft) and maintenance hangars for Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s and a 1,200 m2 (13,000 sq ft) gatehouse for VIP service.[45] In 2010 there were 47,213 customers, 13,162 movements, and in 2009 there were a total of 43,968 customers and 14,896 movements.[110]

Executive Flight Services (EFS) caters to those passengers of high class or special importance that travel through Dubai International Airports. It is the largest dedicated business aviation terminal of its kind in the Middle East. It is located at the Dubai Airport Free Zone close to Dubai International's Terminal 2. It only caters to private flights exclusive to the terminal. Airlines operating from the terminal are expected to maintain a lounge. In 2010 EFS handled 7,889 aircraft movements and 25,177 passengers.[111]

The centre itself is located close to Terminal 2, and includes a 5,500 m2 (59,000 sq ft) two-storey main building, a 3,700 m2 (40,000 sq ft) hangar, a 3,700 m2 (40,000 sq ft) ramp area for aircraft parking, and a special VIP car park for long term parking.[112] The centre also has its own immigration and customs sections, its own Dubai Duty Free outlet, a fully equipped business and conference centre, eight luxury private lounges and a limousine service between aircraft and the terminal.[113]

The ramp area of the terminal can accommodate up to 22 small sized private jets, between 8 and 12 medium sized jets, or up to 4 large sized jets such as the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), the Boeing 727 or the Airbus A319.[114]

The facility makes EFC the largest dedicated business aviation terminal in the Middle East.[77][115]

Cargo Mega Terminal

Qatar Airways Cargo Airbus A330-200F taking off from DXB, with a British Airways Boeing 777-200, Emirates Boeing 777-300ER and Emirates Boeing 777-200LR in the foreground
Aircraft stands at the Cargo 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.[116] 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 2.5 million tonnes, and will be expanded to handle 3 million.[117]

Flower centre

Dubai airport has constructed a flower centre to handle flower imports and exports, as Dubai is a major hub for the import and export of flowers and the airport required a specialist facility since these products need special conditions.[118] The flower centre's first phase was completed in 2004 at a cost of $50 million.[119]

The flower centre is not yet finished and construction will continue in another two phases. The centre will offer an enhanced level of automation over a five to seven-year period for processing flower products. It will begin with a semi-automated system with manual sorting before eventually becoming fully automated.[120]

The centre when completed and functioning will have a floor area of approximately 100,000 m[121]


Aircraft taxiing to runway 12L/30R

Dubai Airport has two runways, 12R/30L is 4,450 m × 60 m (14,600 ft × 200 ft), 12L/30R is 4,000 m × 60 m (13,120 ft × 200 ft). 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.[122] 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.[123]

In 2013 Dubai Airports announced an 80-day runway refurbishment program which will start on 1 May 2014. The northern runway will be resurfaced while lighting upgrades and additional taxiways will be built on the southern runway to help boost its capacity. The southern runway will be closed from 1 May to 31 May 2014, while the northern runway will be closed from 31 May to 20 July 2014. Due to extra congestion on one runway, all freighter, charter and general aviation flights will be diverted to Al Maktoum International Airport.[124][125]

Accommodating the Airbus A380

An Emirates Boeing 777-300 and Airbus A380 seen in the background

With Dubai-based Emirates 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, an enlarged runway, new airbridges and extended baggage belt carousels from the normal 70 to 90 m (230 to 300 ft).[126]

Dubai Airport also invested $3.5 billion into a new Concourse A, exclusively for handling Emirates A380s. With the changes made, 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 fewer passengers. On 16 July 2008, Dubai Airport unveiled the first of two specially-built gates capable of handling the aircraft. Costing $10 million, the gates will 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 to cater for the larger number of passengers flying the A380s. In addition to the two gates at Terminal 1, five more A380-capable gates were opened at concourse B on 14 October 2008.[127] Concourse A opened on 2 January 2013.[128]

Labour Controversy

Most of the staff employed at construction sites across the country are foreign short-term workers from neighboring poorer Arab states, India and East Asia. This is generally because the present generation of UAE locals prefer jobs and consider private sector jobs to be below them. Also, because of UAE government welfare, most locals would rather rely on these benefits and not go to work.[129] Workers building a new terminal at Dubai International Airport went on strike in sympathy.[130] Another strike took place in October 2007. 4,000 strikers were arrested. Most of them were released some days later and those who are not local were then deported from Dubai.[131]

Airlines and destinations

Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 taking off from DXB
Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 at DXB
British Airways Boeing 777-200ER taking off from DXB
SriLankan Airlines Airbus A330-200 landing at DXB
Qantas Airbus A380-800 at DXB
KLM Airbus A330-200 taking off from DXB
Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747-400 at DXB
FlyDubai Boeing 737-800 taking off from DXB
Mahan Air Boeing 747-300 at DXB
Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A340-300 taking off from DXB
Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-300ER landing at DXB
Emirates Airbus A380-800 taxiing to the runway at DXB
Qatar Airways Airbus A330-200 at DXB
Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 777-200LR landing at DXB
Air India Boeing 777-300ER landing at DXB
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600 taking off from DXB

Passenger flights

Countries served by flights from Dubai International Airport (includes seasonal and future destinations).
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aeroflot Moscow-Sheremetyevo 1
African Express Airways Berbera, Hargeisa, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Wajir 1
Afriqiyah Airways Tripoli 1
Air Algérie Algiers 1
Air Blue Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar 1
Air Canada Toronto-Pearson (begins 4 November 2015)[132] 1
Air China Beijing-Capital 1
Air France Paris-Charles de Gaulle 1
Air India Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam 1
Air India Express Amritsar, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kochi, Kozhikode, Mangalore, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirapalli 2
Air Malta Charter: Malta 1
Alexandria Airlines Alexandria-El Nouzha 2
Ariana Afghan Airlines Jeddah, Kabul, Kandahar, Kuwait 2
Arik Air Abuja,[133] Lagos[133] 1
Arkefly Seasonal: Amsterdam 1
Austrian Airlines
operated by Tyrolean Airways
Vienna 1
Azerbaijan Airlines Baku 1
Belavia Seasonal charter: Minsk-National 1
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet 1
British Airways London-Heathrow 1
Caspian Airlines Ahwaz, Tabriz, Tehran-Imam Khomeini 2
Cathay Pacific Bahrain, Hong Kong 1
Cebu Pacific Manila[134] 1
China Eastern Airlines Kunming, Shanghai-Pudong 1
China Southern Airlines Guangzhou, Urumqi 1
Daallo Airlines Berbera, Djibouti, Hargeisa 1
Delta Air Lines Atlanta 1
Djibouti Air Djibouti 1
Dniproavia Seasonal: Kiev-Boryspil[135] 1
EgyptAir Alexandria-El Nouzha, Cairo 1
Emirates Abidjan, Abuja,[136] Accra, Addis Ababa, Adelaide, Ahmedabad, Algiers, Amman-Queen Alia, Amsterdam, Athens, Auckland, Baghdad, Bahrain, Bangalore, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Barcelona, Basra, Beijing-Capital, Beirut, Birmingham (UK), Boston,[137] Brisbane, Brussels,[138] Budapest,[139] Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Cairo, Cape Town, Casablanca, Chennai, Chicago-O'Hare,[140] Christchurch, Colombo, Copenhagen, Dakar, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dammam, Dar es Salaam, Delhi, Denpasar (begins July 23, 2015), Dhaka, Doha, Dublin, Durban, Düsseldorf, Entebbe, Erbil, Frankfurt, Geneva, Glasgow-International, Guangzhou, Hamburg, Harare, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Houston-Intercontinental, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kabul,[141] Karachi, Khartoum, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lagos, Lahore, Larnaca, Lisbon, London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Luanda, Lusaka, Lyon, Madrid, Mahé, Malé, Malta, Manchester (UK), Manila, Mauritius, Medina, Melbourne, Milan-Malpensa, Moscow-Domodedovo, Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta, Newcastle, New York-JFK, Nice, Osaka-Kansai, Oslo-Gardermoen, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Perth, Phuket, Prague, Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, Riyadh, Rome-Fiumicino, San Francisco, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Sialkot,[142] Singapore, St. Petersburg, Stockholm-Arlanda,[143] Sydney, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Toronto-Pearson, Thiruvananthapuram, Tunis, Venice-Marco Polo, Vienna, Warsaw-Chopin, Washington-Dulles, Zürich 3
Enter Air Katowice, Warsaw-Chopin 1
Equatorial Congo Airlines Brazzaville[144] 2
Eritrean Airlines Asmara 2
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa 1
Euro-Asia Air Atyrau 2
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki 1
flydubai Almaty,[146] Amman-Queen Alia, Ashgabat, Baghdad, Bahrain, Baku, Basra, Beirut, Belgrade, Bishkek, Bratislava (begins 6 December 2014), Bucharest, Bujumbura,[147] Chișinău,[148] Chittagong, Colombo, Dammam, Dar es Salaam,[149] Delhi, Dhaka, Djibouti, Dnipropetrovsk,[150] Doha, Donetsk (suspended),[151] Dushanbe, Entebbe, [147] Erbil, Gassim, Hyderabad, Ha'il, Hambantota,[152] Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen, Jeddah, Juba,[153] Kabul, Kandahar,[154] Karachi, Kathmandu, Kazan, Kharkiv, Khartoum, Kiev-Boryspil, Kilimanjaro,[149] Kigali, [147] Kiev-Zhulyany,[155] Krasnodar,[150] Kochi, Kuwait, Lucknow, Malé, Mashhad, Medina, Mineralnye Vody,[150] Moscow-Vnukovo,[156] Multan, Mumbai, Muscat, Najaf, Odessa,[150] Osh,[157] Port Sudan, Riyadh, Prague (begins December 5, 2014), Rostov-on-Don,[150] Salalah,[158] Samara, Sana'a, Sarajevo - International[159] (begins 8 December 2014), Shymkent,[146] Sialkot, Skopje, Sofia (begins 14 December 2014), Sulaymaniyah, Tabuk, Ta'if, Tbilisi, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Thiruvananthapuram, Ufa, Volgograd,[150] Yanbu, Yekaterinburg, Yerevan, Zagreb (begins 16 December 2014), Zanzibar [149] 2
Flynas Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh 1
Georgian Airways Tbilisi 1
Gryphon Airlines Bagram, Kandahar, Kuwait, Ras al Khaimah 2
Gulf Air Bahrain 1
I-Fly Charter: Moscow-Vnukovo 2
IndiGo Bangalore (begins 15 December 2014),[160] Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kozhikode (begins 2 January 2015), Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram 1
Iran Air Bandar Abbas, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tehran-Imam Khomeini 1
Iran Aseman Airlines Abadan, Bandar Abbas, Bandar Lengeh, Bushehr, Gheshm, Lar, Mashhad, Shiraz, Kermanshah, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Zahedan 2
Iraqi Airways Baghdad, Basra, Erbil, Mosul, Najaf[161] 1
Jazeera Airways Bahrain, Kuwait 1
Jet Airways Delhi, Kochi, Mangalore, Mumbai 1
Jordan Aviation Amman-Queen Alia, Aqaba 1
Jubba Airways Djibouti, Hargeisa, Mogadishu, Nairobi 2
Jupiter Airlines Arbil, Baghdad, Basra 2
Kabo Air Kano 1
Kam Air Kabul 1
Kenya Airways Hong Kong,[162] Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta 1
Kish Air Isfahan, Kish, Khasab, Qeshm, Tabriz 2
KLM Amsterdam 1
Korean Air Seoul-Incheon 1
Kurdistan Airlines Arbil
Kuwait Airways Kuwait, Muscat 1
Kyrgyzstan Aircompany Bishkek 2
Libyan Airlines Benghazi, Tripoli (all temporarily suspended) 1
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich 1
Mahan Air Tehran-Imam Khomeini 1
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur 1
MIAT Mongolian Airlines Charter: Ulan Bator 1
Middle East Airlines Beirut 1
Mihin Lanka Colombo 2
Nordstar Airlines Krasnoyarsk-Yemelyanovo
Seasonal: St Petersburg
Norwegian Air Shuttle Copenhagen, Oslo-Gardermoen
Seasonal: Stockholm-Arlanda
Oman Air Muscat, Salalah 1
Pakistan International Airlines Dera Ghazi Khan, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta 1
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen 1
Philippine Airlines
operated by PAL Express
Manila [163] 1
Primera Air Malmö 1
Qantas London-Heathrow, Melbourne, Sydney 3
Qatar Airways Doha 1
Qeshm Airlines Isfahan, Qeshm, Tehran-Imam Khomeini[164] 2
Rossiya Seasonal: St. Petersburg 1
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca (resumes 31 March 2015) [165] TBA
Royal Brunei Airlines Bandar Seri Begawan, Jeddah, London-Heathrow 1
Royal Jordanian Amman-Queen Alia
Seasonal: Aqaba
RwandAir Kigali, Mombasa 1
Safi Airways Bagram, Kabul 1
Saudia Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh 1
Shaheen Air International Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar 1
SpiceJet Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kochi, Madurai, Mumbai 1
S7 Airlines Novosibirsk 1
Singapore Airlines Singapore 1
Somon Air Dushanbe, Jeddah 1
SriLankan Airlines Colombo 1
Sudan Airways Khartoum 1
Swiss International Air Lines Muscat, Zürich 1
Syrian Air Damascus 1
TAAG Angola Airlines Luanda 2
Taban Air Isfahan, Mashhad 2
TAROM Bucharest-Henri Coandă 1
Thai Airways Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi 1
Transaero Airlines Moscow-Vnukovo
Seasonal: Novosibirsk, Tyumen, Omsk, Samara, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg
1 Seasonal: Amsterdam 2
Travel Service Hungary Budapest 2
Tunisair Beirut, Tunis 1
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk 1
Turkmenistan Airlines Ashgabat 2
Ukraine International Airlines Kiev-Boryspil 1
United Airlines Washington-Dulles 1
Ural Airlines Chelyabinsk, Kazan, Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Ufa, Yekaterinburg 1
Uzbekistan Airways Tashkent 1
Virgin Atlantic Airways London-Heathrow 1
Yemenia Aden, Al Mukalla, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Kuala Lumpur, Sana'a 1

^1 Some of these flights may make a stop en route to the listed destination. However, the airline does not have the rights to carry passengers solely between Dubai and the intermediate stop.


See also Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport

A FedEx McDonnell Douglas MD-11F at DXB
UPS Boeing 767-300ER at DXB
A DHL Aviation Boeing 777F operated by AeroLogic at DXB
Iran Air Cargo Boeing 747-200 taking off from DXB
Airlines Destinations
Air France Cargo Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Ariana Afghan Airlines Kabul, Kandahar
British Gulf International Airlines Baghdad
Coyne Airways Baghdad, Bagram, Balad, Djibouti, Erbil, Kabul, Kandahar, Sana'a
DHL Aviation
operated by AeroLogic
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa
Falcon Express Cargo Airlines Bahrain, Doha, Jeddah, Lahore
FedEx Express Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Milan Malpensa, Goa
FitsAir Abu Dhabi, Baghdad, Bagram, Balad, Colombo, Erbil, Herat, Jalalabad, Kabul, Kandahar, Lashkar Gah, Sharana, Sulaymaniyah, Tarin Kowt, Thumrait
Jett8 Airlines Amsterdam, Singapore
Iran Air Cargo Tehran-Imam Khomeini
Maximus Air Cargo Lahore
Polar Air Cargo Seoul-Incheon
Qatar Airways Cargo Doha , Karachi
Polet Cargo Airlines Toulouse, Voronezh
Royal Airlines Karachi
Royal Jordanian Cargo Amman-Queen Alia
SAS Cargo Group Gothenburg-Landvetter
Shaheen Air International Cargo Karachi
Silk Way Airlines Baku
Star Air Aviation Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi
TAROM Bucharest-Henri Coandă
TCS Couriers Lahore
TNT Airways Delhi, Liege
Trans Mediterranean Airways Beirut
Turkish Airlines Cargo Istanbul-Ataturk
UPS Airlines Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Clark, Cologne/Bonn, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore, Sydney


Passenger services

The airport has over 26,000 m2 (280,000 sq ft) of retail space spread between its three main terminals and includes many shopping and eating outlets.[167] 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) 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 Dhs5.9 billion (US$1.6 billion) in 2012, representing a 10 per cent increase on the previous year. In 2008, Dubai Duty Free doubled its retail space from 7,000 to 15,000 m2 (75,000 to 161,000 sq ft) with the inauguration of the new Emirates Terminal 3 in October 2008. Dubai Duty Free recorded more than 23.5 million transactions in 2012.[167] 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.

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 three hotels are provided. Various lounge areas are provided, some including children's play areas or televisions showing news, movies and sports channels.[168]

The Emirates Flight Catering centre which was expanded in 2007, is capable of producing 115,000 meals per day[169]
Emirates Aircraft Hangars

Aviation services

Ground handling

Ground handling services at Dubai International Airport has been provided by Dnata Ground Handling Services. Emirates Airlines is handled by its own 2000+ strong Airport Services department .[170]

Services include cargo ramp and technical support services to airlines at Dubai Airport.[171]

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.[172]

Current facilities include:[173][174]

  • Seven aircraft hangars all capable of handling the A380 (currently the largest aircraft hangar in the world)[175]
  • 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

Passport entry stamp from Dubai International Airport (right in black ink). Exit stamp is from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
E-gate counters, at Passport Control. The new system was introduced to make access into the UAE easier.

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.[176]

During the early 2000s, the UAE government decided to upgrade its archaic immigration system and introduced retinal scanning at all points of entry within the UAE. This type of scanning prevents those deported from the UAE for serious criminal charges, from returning again, using fradulent documents (UAE nationals and others who do not need a visa to enter the UAE are exempt). It is also a quick and less intrusive way of doing things. 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.[177]

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 four years or more if found in possession (including in the bloodstream and the bottom of the shoes[178]) of illegal drugs (even in quantities as small as 0.001 g (3.5×10−5 oz)), including poppy seeds from bagels and prescription and over-the-counter medicines such as codeine.[179] 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 death. The message is clear – drugs will not be tolerated."[179] A number of travellers have been held pending charge while Dubai authorities test their possessions, blood and urine for any trace of contraband.[180]


Passenger operations

Top destinations
By flight frequencies (weekly one-way)
Rank Destination 02/08
1  Qatar, Doha 175
5  Iran, Tehran 100
4  India, Mumbai 129
6  Oman, Muscat 123
7  United Kingdom, London Heathrow 99
3  Bahrain Bahrain 130
2  Pakistan Karachi 131
8  Jordan, Amman 70

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 per cent 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 carriers such as Flydubai operate flights out of terminal 2.[181]

Passenger growth at the airport has been growing at an average rate of 18 per cent. The airport 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 2013 the airport's capacity reached 80 million with the opening of concourse A and expansion of Terminal 2.

Passenger traffic for 2013 grew by 15.2 percent as 66.43 million passengers passed through Dubai International, compared to 57.68 million during the corresponding period in 2012.[10] December was the first month in the airport's history when passenger numbers eclipsed the 6 million mark.[182]

In 2013, India was DXB's biggest destination for passengers rising 14.3 per cent year-on-year to 8.40 million. The UK and Saudi Arabia followed with 5.10 million and 4.83 million respectively. Doha remained the top city destination, recording 2,516,866 passengers, an 13 per cent increase in passengers compared to the previous year. London followed it with 2,494,555 passengers.[9]


The airport handled 2.44 million tonnes of air cargo in 2013, an increase of 6.8 percent over 2012, making it the 6th-busiest airfreight hub in the world and the busiest in the Middle East.[2]

Ground transportation


D 89 leading to Dubai Airport

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.[183]


The airport is served by Dubai Metro, which operates two lines through or near the airport. The Red Line has a station at each of Terminal 3 and Terminal 1. Services run between 6 am and 11 pm every day except Friday, when they run between 1 pm and midnight. 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 has at a station near the Airport Free Zone, from which passengers can connect to Terminal 2.[184]


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

Passengers who need to transfer between Terminal 1 and 3 and Terminal 2 can use the inter-terminal shuttle bus service which operates frequently.

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.[185]

Emirates offers a complimentary coach service, which operates 3 daily services to and from Al Ain, and 4 daily, to and from Abu Dhabi.[186]

Service[187] Destination Notes
RTA Buses
4 Al Rashidiya Bus Station
33 Al Qusais Industrial Station
34 Al Rashidiya Bus Station
44 Al Gubaiba Bus Station
48 Al Rashidiya Bus Station
64 Ras Al Khor Terminus
401 Deira Terminus
402 Al Karama Terminus
11A Awir Terminus
11C CWC Terminus
32C Satwa Bus Station
11M Khawaneej
C01 Gold Souk Terminal Station
C8 Zabeel
C26 Safa Park
X28 Jebel Ali Terminus


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

Accidents and incidents

  • On 14 March 1972, Sterling Airways Flight 296 crashed on approach to Dubai, killing 112.
  • In November 1974, British Airways Flight 870, a Vickers VC10, from Dubai to Heathrow, was hijacked in Dubai, landing at Tripoli for refuelling before flying on to Tunis. One hostage was murdered before the hijackers eventually surrendered after 84 hours. Captain Jim Futcher was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal, the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Founders Medal, the British Air Line Pilots Association Gold Medal and a Certificate of Commendation from British Airways for his actions during the hijacking, having returned to the aircraft to fly it knowing the hijackers were on board.[188]
  • On 28 July 2001, a man named Djamel Beghal was arrested at Dubai International Airport while transferring from a flight from Pakistan to a flight to Europe. Beghal admitted to UAE interrogators that he was part of the Paris embassy attack plot. The Al-Qaeda suspect was taken to France, where he recanted parts of his statement. The plot was dismantled by French, Belgian, and Dutch authorities.
  • Part of the airport's Terminal 3 collapsed on 28 September 2004 during the construction phase. The terminal was designed by Paul Andreu, a French architect who also designed Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.
  • On 12 March 2007, the nose gear of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Flight BG006 (LHR-DXB-DAC), an Airbus A310-300, collapsed while the aircraft was accelerating down the runway.[189] The plane was carrying 236 passengers and crew. Fourteen people suffered minor injuries in the accident.[190] The aircraft came to rest at the end of the runway and was evacuated, but the accident crippled the only active runway and forced the airport to close for eight hours, affecting 71 flights.[191]
  • On 3 September 2010, UPS Flight 6, operating a Boeing 747-44AF N571UP crashed shortly after take-off, killing both crew and destroying the aircraft. N571UP was operating an international cargo flight to Cologne Bonn Airport, Germany.[192]

In media

In 2013, Dubai International Airport was featured in a 10 part documentary series called Ultimate Airport Dubai that aired on National Geographic and was produced by Arrow Media and National Geographic Channels International.[193] The documentary focused on the everyday operations of the airport.[194][195]


See also


  1. ^ a b United Arab Emirates AIP (login required)
  2. ^ a b "Preliminary 2012 World Airport Traffic and Rankings". Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Massive Dubai airport may delay opening again". MSNBC. 2009. Retrieved 30 February 2009. 
  4. ^ "Dubai International Airport". World Airport Guide. Retrieved 12 August 2008. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Largest international airline is worth US,1 billion Airport needs to add 100-million-passenger. (28 July 2013). Retrieved on 16 August 2013.
  7. ^ David Black (28 September 2012). "Qantas to fly into Dubai in major alliance with Emirates Airline – The National". Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
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External links

  • Official site
  • Project information from Airport Technology
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