PICTURES: SkyCargo 777 tests new Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport

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Emirates' freight division SkyCargo has performed the first operational flight into Dubai's Al-Maktoum International Airport, ahead of its formal opening on 27 June.

The Boeing 777 freighter, operating flight EK9883 from Hong Kong, landed at Al-Maktoum at 16:50 yesterday.

It enabled testing of air traffic control processes, airport manoeuvring, ground-handling and security as well as communications between various agencies.

"The test was an unmitigated success not only for Emirates SkyCargo, but most importantly for our customer Swift Freight," says Emirates divisional senior vice-president for cargo Ram Menen.

"Although our cargo hub continues to be Dubai International, there is no doubt that [the new airport] will play an increasingly important role - initially for spot cargo operations driven by customer need and eventually for scheduled freighter services."

Dubai's civil aviation authority will carry out a review on 24 June to finalise the airport licensing process.

skycargo 777 al-maktoum

skycargo 777 al-maktoum
 © Dubai Airports

Al-Maktoum International is the centrepiece of the Dubai World Central project and is intended to become the largest airport in the world, with five runways and four terminals capable of handling 160 million annual passengers.

But when it opens towards the end of this month the airport will initially have a single runway and be used only for cargo flights. Passenger flights will be introduced at the end of March next year, to coincide with the IATA summer schedule.

Although the airport is opening late, Dubai Airports chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum says the Emirates flight marks an "important milestone, not only for the airport's certification process, but as another step towards achieving Dubai's vision to become the pre-eminent centre for aviation worldwide".

The first phase of the airport's development will include a terminal for 5 million passengers and a freight centre for 250,000t of cargo.

Emirates says that the freight operations at the airport will benefit from a dedicated bonded road to the port of Jebel Ali.