Welcome to this year’s first installment of Easycharter’s Airport of the Month!
This January, we decided to put one of the busiest airports in the world in the spotlight, Dubai International Airport (IATA: DXB, ICAO: OMDB, WMO: 41194)!
Dubai International Airport (OMDB), located in Al Garhoud District 4.6 km east of Dubai over a 2’900 hectare piece of land, is the primary international airport serving the city and a major contributor to its economy. The economic impact of the airport is close to USD 26.7 billion, representing 27% of the city’s GDP and 21% of its employment.
OMDB is the busiest international airport in the world by international passenger traffic. It is also the fourth busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, and the world’s sixth busiest cargo airport.
In the year 2018, OMDB handled 86’396’757 passengers (total annual capacity: 93 million passengers), 2’514’918 tons of cargo (total annual capacity: 3 million tons of cargo), and registered 373’361 aircraft movements.
Environmentally, in an effort to reduce 30% of Dubai’s city energy consumption by the year 2030, OMDB installed the largest solar energy system in the region’s airports in July 2019.
In 2013, OMDB was featured in a 10-part documentary series on the National Geographic Channel called “Ultimate Airport Dubai”. The series focused on everyday operations at the airport and returned for a second season in 2014, and a third season in 2015.
OMDB serves as a hub for Emirates Airlines, the largest airline hub in the Middle East. Emirates handles 51% of passenger traffic and 42% of aircraft movements at the airport. Emirates AirCargo, a subsidiary of Emirates, operates scheduled all-cargo services between the city and the rest of the world. OMDB also serves as a base for low-cost-airline FlyDubai, which handles close to 13% of passenger traffic at the airport and 25% of its aircraft movements.
OMDB has an 87 m tall traffic control tower (ATCT).
OMDB has three main passenger terminals: Terminal 1 with one concourse (Concourse D), Terminal 2, and terminal 3 with three concourses (Concourse A, B, and C). Terminal 3 is the largest airport terminal in the world and the largest building in the world by floor space.
In addition, OMDB has a major cargo terminal and a general aviation terminal (GAT). Interestingly, OMDB also has a special flower center, capable of handling flower imports and exports, as perishable flowers require handling in special facilities.
Terminals 1 and 3 cater to international passengers. Internally, Terminal 1 and 3 are directly connected with a common transit area, allowing airside passengers to move freely between terminals without passing through immigration. Terminal 2 is located on the opposite side of the airport. It caters to budget passengers and those traveling to the subcontinent and Persian Gulf regions. Beside Terminal 2, Al Majlis VIP Pavilion and Dubai Executive Flight Terminal serves high-end passengers.
Emirates Airlines operates out of OMDB’s Terminal 3. As of December 2018, FlyDubai, generally operating out of Terminal 2, also started operating out of Terminal 3 for select destinations.
A shuttle service runs between terminals to transport transit passengers. An automated people mover transports passengers between concourse A and the rest of Terminal 3. Another automated people mover transports passengers between concourse D and Terminal 1.
OMDB has two closely-spaced parallel asphalt runways, 12L/30R and 12R/30L. 12L/30R is 4’000m long and 12R/30L is 4’450 m long, with a 385 m gap between the centerlines of both runways. To guide landing aircraft safely under poor weather conditions, the runways are equipped with four sets of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). In 2009, the airport installed a category III landing system, to allow aircraft to land safely under conditions of poor visibility (fog). The runways were expanded to accommodate the very large Airbus A380, which entered into service in 2007.
The airport provides general aviation services, including ground handling and aircraft maintenance.
In addition to plenty of retail space, with numerous dining and duty-free shopping outlets, the airport has two open-air gardens. Other facilities at OMDB include internet and game areas, prayer rooms, showers, spa, gym, swimming pool, and three hotels. Several lounge areas are available, some of which include children’s play areas. Terminal 3 also has a left luggage facility where passengers can leave their luggage for a fee while they go sightseeing.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Dubai manages the overall safety and security at OMDB, using modern technologies and screening devices capable of detecting illegal weapons and illegal drugs (even in the blood). The airport has Iris scanning, to prevent those deported from the country with serious criminal charges from returning using fake documents. Pre-screening also occurs at the entrance of the airport at all terminals.
Externally, road D 89, one of the longest intra-city roads, connects the airport. Dubai Metro also serves the airport with several stations at each terminal. Dubai Buses runs a number of routes to the city and are available at the Airport Ground Transportation Center and the Arrivals area of each terminal. Dubai Taxi Agency also provides 24-hour service at the Arrivals area of each terminal.
OMDB is slowly getting busier, but it is far from what it was before the pandemic struck all aspects of the aviation industry. Passenger numbers at OMDB have crept up to over only 1 million a month, less than 15% of the numbers back in 2019 after Emirates started slowly resuming its routes. To boost the poor numbers and limit the extension of the the social and economic damage inflicted by the virus, the CEO of Dubai International Airport is urging counties to refrain from imposing mandatory quarantines on arriving passengers. Instead, he promotes an alternative strategy including aggressive pre-departure PCR testing, mandatory mask-wearing aboard aircraft, and PCR testing on arrival. Recovery from the impact of the pandemic is expected to be quite extended and may take years.
That’s about it for this month, peeps…
Stay tuned for next month’s installment of “Airport of the Month”!