By Ed Attwood
Operational testing programme steps up with just a week before airport’s official launch.
Dubai flag-carrier Emirates was awarded the honour of landing the first aircraft at Al Maktoum International yesterday, when one of the carrier’s three B777 freighters touched down at the airport on Sunday afternoon.
The first landing was part of operational testing procedures undertaken before the giant airport officially opens for business on June 27.
With only seven days to go before the official launch of commercial flights at the airport, it is still unclear as to which freight carriers will be basing their operations there.
Al Maktoum International, the centrepiece of the $33 billion Dubai World Central (DWC) megaproject, is planned to be the world’s largest airport when it is fully completed.
The five-runway airport will eventually be able to handle 160 million passengers a year, up from the previously projected 120 million, as well as 12 million tonnes of cargo.
Earlier this month, DWC vice president for cargo and logistics Andrew Walsh told Arabian Business that the facility would begin passenger operations in the first quarter of next year.
“The planning date is spring of 2011 – so we’re looking at the end of March for the start of passenger flights,” he said.
“Right now, the passenger terminal in the final stages of fit-out. Once we’ve got the cargo terminal open and the operations are settled, we’ll move into the operational readiness process for the passenger terminal through the later part of this year and the early part of next year.”