Exterior artists impression of what the new Al Maktoum airport in Dubai will look like

Dubai Unveils Ambitious Plans for World’s Largest Airport

by Dubai Travel Planner

Dubai is set to redefine air travel with the approval of designs for the new passenger terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) in Dubai South.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and other dignitaries revealed the strategic plan in early May 2024, signalling the start of a groundbreaking project that will revolutionize the Middle East aviation sector.

What is Al Maktoum Airport Dubai?

Situated in the area of the city known as Dubai South, 37 kilometres southwest of the city, DWC is already the site of Al Maktoum International Airport.

When it first opened in 2010, it was known as Dubai World Central, hence the IATA code DWC. The airport was renamed Al Maktoum International Airport (after Dubai’s ruling family) and started taking commercial passenger aircraft in 2013.

An illustrative map showing where the new Al Maktoum airport will be in relation to the existing DXB airport in Dubai

Although DWC has long been designated as the future home of Dubai’s aviation hub, the Global Financial Crisis and many other factors in the past decade have seen numerous delays in a shift to using the expansive grounds available in Dubai South.

Al Maktoum International Airport presently takes some commercial and cargo flights, but its distance from the city and existing DXB airport (45 kilometres away with no transport links) has long been an issue until a fully comprehensive change to Dubai’s transport infrastructure could be made.

The only periods of time the airport has seen substantial use have been when runway upgrade works have reduced capacity at DXB and occasional emergency diversions.

So in short, we wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t heard of Al Maktoum Airport before now!

Grand New Visions For Dubai Aviation

The announcement by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum paves the way for an exciting new era in aviation transport.

Once complete, the new Al Maktoum International Airport terminal will initially have the capacity to handle 150 million passengers annually, growing to 260 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo.

Designed to meet the needs of the UAE over the next four decades, the new airport will have five parallel runways and 400 aircraft gates over the 70 square kilometre site.

Artists images of the new Al maktoum airport in Dubai DWC
An artist’s impression of the interior of the new Al Maktoum International Airport

Dubai Airport Connections – Now & In The Future

The move will be part of a larger infrastructure plan for the rapidly expanding city. With existing buildings in the city’s east, bordering the emirate of Sharjah, there is no further room for expanding the existing Dubai International Airport. With only two runways, there is no viable way to continue to meet air traffic demand in the decades to come, so a fully-fledged second airport is the only real option.

Once opened, Emirates and FlyDubai, the emirate’s two largest state-owned airlines, will fully transition all operations to DWC.

Timeline For The Transition To The New Al Maktoum Airport

The most important question you no doubt have is when these changes will take effect, and which airlines will move.

The short answer is that no definitive date has been given as yet. However, reading between the lines of statements made by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group , the full move of Emirates and FlyDubai, to Al Maktoum International Airport will happen ‘within 10 years’—so it would be safe to say by 2034.

There’s certainly no need to recheck your ticket routing in the next few years as this AED 128 billion project will be a monumental task – the biggest of its kind seen anywhere in the world- as Dubai looks to cement its position as the world’s largest aviation hub.

There has been no specific announcement as yet on what will happen with other airlines that presently use DXB or whether they will continue to operate the two runways at DXB after transitioning to the new Al Maktoum International Airport. Presently, 102 international airlines link Dubai to 262 worldwide destinations in 104 countries.

Watch this space as plans fall into place for Dubai’s incredible infrastructure plans.

Interior artist concept picture of the new Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai

More About Travelling Through Dubai

While we await further news on the transition to Al Maktoum International Airport, you may also like to read more about:

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai


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