The spectacular $4 billion extension to Dubai International airport seems likely to turn the airport itself into a “must see” destination.
With 21 million passengers passing through the airport in 2004, it is bumping up close to its capacity of 22 million. The expansion of the airport will take capacity to more than 75 million passengers a year.
But the government of Dubai is already thinking ahead to a time when that capacity will not be enough.
Where most governments in the same situation would have blueprints and contingencies on the drawing board, Dubai has construction gangs and plant already working on the emirate’s “next big aviation thing”.
Work is now well under way on the first phase of Jebel Ali airport, located about 40km (25 miles) from the existing airport on the other side of the city.
Located in 137km2 (53 miles2) of desert, it will eventually have six (parallel) runways and be capable of handling 120 million passengers a year.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation, says: “Within 18 months, the present airport will have a capacity of 75 million, but in 2006 we expect to be handling 30 million and 35 million in 2007. Our growth is such that we can already see a time when we reach the new capacity.”
To call Jebel Ali an airport is to call a Rolls-Royce a car.
It will, in fact, become a vast city, with residential and industrial zones and a centre of aviation excellence.

Source: Flight Daily News