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First Runway Completed At Dubai's New Mega Airport

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

07 November 2007

The first runway has been completed at the Al-Maktoum International Airport (previously the Dubai World Central International Airport), which, when completed, is set to dwarf in size the world's current largest airports.

Built with the most advanced materials allowing aircraft to land in all weather conditions, the 4.5km (2.8 mile) runway was completed on schedule in 600 days, and cost $1 billion to build. The runway will be capable of handling any type of aircraft, but is set to undergo testing before planes such as the new Airbus A380 Superjumbo can use it.

The runway is the first of six proposed for the massive new airport located in the desert in Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone. Its completion coincided with the official re-naming of the airport to Al-Maktoum International Airport in honour of the ruling family of the Emirate of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates.

Work began on the new airport in late 2005. When completed, it will have six concourses, and will be capable of handling more than 120 million passengers, and more than 12 million tonnes of cargo per year. Matching the ruling family's grand ambitions for Dubai, Al-Maktoum International Airport will be about the same size as London's Heathrow Airport and Chicago's O'Hare International combined, when finished.

Khalifa Al Zaffin, director of engineering and Projects, at the Department of Civil Aviation, Government of Dubai, announced on the launch of the massive engineering project that: “No airport has ever been built to this scale - or been served with infrastructure of this magnitude and sophistication. It will accommodate every aircraft type yet conceived."

The airport is being built as part of the Jebel Ali Airport City, an ambitious 140 square km project within which will be situated logistics, commercial, residential, educational, recreational, technology and entertainment zones. Total infrastructure costs are expected to reach $33 billion when the project is complete.

The new airport will be ten times larger than Dubai International Airport, located about 40km away, but it is not intended to replace its smaller cousin, which itself is undergoing expansion. According to DWC's communications chief Abdulla al-Falasi, Al-Maktoum International Airport is designed to meet future growth in demand for air travel, and act as a regional hub for low cost airlines. "We don't want to lose any type of business," he told reporters.

Commenting on the completion of the new runway, Chairman of Dubai Aviation Corporation and Dubai World Central (DWC), Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, reportedly stated that: "The completion of the first runway, capable of handling any new generation of aircraft, signals the advent of a new era in Dubai's aviation and transportation history."

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