The world’s first purpose-built Airbus A380 “superjumbo” terminal at Dubai International Airport opened all its 20 gates for business yesterday.
“The full opening of Concourse A is a significant milestone and achievement in supporting and enabling the continued growth of Emirates,” said Tim Clark, the airline’s president.
“With our current fleet of A380s and a further 59 on order, Emirates is the largest operator of this aircraft in the world, and it is only fitting that we have a world-class facility that meets this need and represents our leadership in this regard.”
The first flight from the terminal was on January 2, with flight EK003 bound for Heathrow from one of the first four gates opened during Phase 1 of the launch. It has has since handled 461,972 pieces of luggage and more than 2,450 flights and served 589,234 passengers.
“Much like the opening of Terminal 3 in 2008, the phase-in of Concourse A has resulted in the seamless introduction of world class infrastructure that responds to the rapid growth of Emirates and caters to the needs of its discerning and truly global customer base,” said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports.
“Concourse A is a vital element of our US$7.8 billion [Dh28.65bn] investment in the continued expansion of Dubai International which will see it become the world’s busiest airport for international passenger traffic by the end of 2015.”
Concourse A is part of the Terminal 3 complex, from where passengers can travel to the Emirates network of 21 A380 destinations across Europe, North America, Australia and Asia.
With 11 floors and a total floor area of 528,000 sq metres, Concourse A is connected to Concourse B via underground train. First class and business class lounges have dedicated floors that offer direct access to aircraft boarding gates. The lounges, which extend the entire length of the concourse, are the largest in the world.
Concourse A is scheduled to boost capacity at Dubai International from 60 million to 75 million passengers per year. It is a vital part of Dubai Airports Strategic Plan 2020, which will increase airport capacity to 90 million by 2018.
The opening comes as Mr Clark said he expected a revamped version of Boeing’s 777 airliner to be available to his airline’s customers in six to nine months.
Boeing, however, says it is at least a year away from offering a new version of the 777. Emirates, Boeing’s biggest customer, has said it will need to replace its older 777s from 2017, which is prompting the push for a new version.
The 777 is one of the most successful jets of all time in terms of sales, and airlines are eager for a version that can go farther on less fuel with more passengers.
Mr Clark also predicted Emirates’ expected revenue for the fiscal year ending 2012-2013 will have grown 18 to 20 per cent and he expects profits to rise over the previous year.