With construction of Concourse 3, the world’s first purpose-built A380 facility, on track for completion at the end of 2012, Dubai Airports has launched an intensive operational readiness programme to prepare the new facility for its opening in the first quarter of 2013.
“Concourse 3 will be opened to the public in the first quarter of 2013 once Dubai Airports is completely satisfied that it has passed all operational and service readiness tests with flying colours,” Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports told journalists at a press briefing held at the Arabian Travel Market currently underway in Dubai. “We will not compromise on service.”
Last month Dubai Airports, together with its stakeholders Emirates, dnata, police, immigration and Dubai Corporation for Aviation Engineering Projects, kicked off its Operational Readiness and Airport Transition (ORAT) programme. During this period Dubai Airports, as the landlord of the new facility, will in phases take over responsibility of Concourse 3, as the contractors complete their work.
By the end of April, key elements of the facility, including the baggage handling system and train system linking Terminal 3 to the new concourse were in place and are due to be handed over to Dubai Airports for trials in the coming weeks. Most of the structural work on Concourse 3 is complete, with work now predominately focused on the activation of airport systems and completion of the internal infrastructure.
As each element, from the baggage handling system to the lounge facilities, is handed over, it will undergo intensive tests and trials to ensure that it is able to cope with the millions passengers that will eventually use them. The trials and tests will grow in intensity and scope, culminating in complex advanced passengers trials. These advanced trials, which will include thousands of members of the public and airport staff, will simulate the full operation of Concourse 3, including the boarding and disembarking of aircraft, use of lounge facilities, restaurants and flight connection facilities.
“Over the next few weeks, our preparatory work will move into high gear. We learned a lot from our experience with Terminal 3,” said Griffiths. ”We learned that the big bang theory is not the best approach when it comes to opening an airport…soft launches following rigorous testing and operational trials is the only way to go.”
Concourse 3, which will cater solely for Emirates Airline flights, is spread over 500,000m² and 11 levels. Featuring 20 contact gates and 13 remote stands, all capable of accommodating Airbus A380 aircraft, Concourse 3 will boost Dubai International’s capacity to 75 million passengers per year. The new building will have entire floors dedicated to business and first class passengers, allowing them to board directly from the lounge facilities. The Automated People Mover (APM), or train, carrying passengers from Terminal 3 to C3 is another first for Dubai Airports in the Middle East.
“As Emirates continues its rapid expansion, ensuring that we have the right infrastructure in place to support it is key,” said Tim Clark, President, Emirates airline. “As the largest operator of A380s in the world, having a dedicated concourse that is built to exclusively accommodate this aircraft, will transform the airport experience for Emirates’ customers. It will mean an improved airport service, world class shopping and the first class and business class facilities for which Emirates is known and respected.
“We have a very busy few months ahead as we, together with Dubai Airports, continue our preparations for the opening and look forward to welcoming our first passengers to the new concourse in early 2013.”
As the Concourse 3 project nears completion, work has already begun on phase one of the US$7.8 billion Strategic Plan 2020 which will boost Dubai International’s annual capacity to 90 million passengers by 2018 through several airport and airspace expansion projects.
As part of the plan, work to expand Terminal 2 to almost double its existing capacity continues apace, with construction well underway on the new check-in facilities. Design work for the new Concourse 4, which will be dedicated to more than 110 international airlines, is also underway.