A number of dignitaries were on hand on Sunday when the Boeing 777 freighter touched down from Hong Kong. "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," said Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Airports.
"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."
Five million passenger terminal capacity
Phase 1 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.
In the short term Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International will increase the airport capacity of Dubai to accommodate the 48% increase in cargo volumes from 1.9 million to the 3 million tonnes anticipated by 2015.
In the long term it will serve as a multi-modal logistics hub for 12 million tonnes of freight and a global gateway for the 150 million passengers per annum that are expected to pass through Dubai by 2030.
Smooth test run
During the live operation, the flight effectively tested Air Traffic Control procedures, airfield and taxi way signage and routes, radio communication and a host of processes and procedures related to ground and cargo handling, fuelling, catering, customs, immigration and security.
The trial also tested communication links between all the parties involved - Emirates SkyCargo, Dubai Airports, Dubai Air Navigation Services, Dubai Police, Customs, Immigration, Engineering Projects, Dubai Logistics City, Dubai World Central, JAFZA, Dnata, Swift Freight and the Roads & Transport Authority.
"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 fact that the airport is connected to Jebel Ali Port and Free Zone by a bonded road which cuts transfer times significantly is a strong sales point. Although our cargo hub continues to be Dubai International, there is no doubt that Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International will play an increasingly important role - initially for spot cargo operations driven by customer need and eventually for scheduled freighter services."
The General Civil Aviation Authority, the overseeing regulator which, along with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority has been involved throughout, will conduct a final review on June 24 to complete airport licensing.