By Andy Sambidge
Dubai Airports chief says new airport is key to becoming world's No 1 aviation centre.
The first flight to land at the new Al Maktoum Airport is a big step in Dubai's aim to become the world's "pre-eminent aviation centre", a top official said on Monday.
Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Dubai Airports, said operational tests had been passed with flying colours.
"This is 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," he added in comments published by news agency WAM.
"It's also a testament to the cooperation and dedication of all of the organisations and stakeholders involved, who have done an impressive job of building and preparing Phase 1 of the facility for launch in a very short time frame."
Phase one of the airport will feature one A380 capable runway, 64 remote stands, one cargo terminal with annual capacity for 250,000 tonnes of cargo and a passenger terminal building designed to accommodate five million passengers per year.
When completed, Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International will be the largest airport in the world with five runways, four terminal buildings and capacity for 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo.
The facility opens initially for cargo carriers on June 27, with passenger operations currently slated to start up at the end of March 2011.
During the first live operation on Sunday, air traffic control procedures were tested alongside airfield and taxi signage and routes, radio communication and a range of procedures related to ground and cargo handling, fuelling, catering, customs, immigration and security.
"The test was an unmitigated success not only for Emirates SkyCargo, but most importantly for our customer Swift Freight," said Ram Menen, Emirates' divisional senior vice president Cargo.
The General Civil Aviation Authority, the overseeing regulator, will conduct a final review on June 24 to complete airport licensing.