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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 October 2018

Al Maktoum International to become a 'cosmic super-port' handling hypersonic and space aircraft in future

Aviation project finds new role for city's second airport

Al Maktoum International Airport. Courtesy DWC
Al Maktoum International Airport. Courtesy DWC

Dubai is known for its aviation vision - home to Emirates, the world's largest international airline.

Now another special chapter is about to open in the emirate's aviation story.

Al Maktoum Airport will be reinvented as an aviation hub that can handle air and space travel.

The move was announced on Wednesday and it means subsonic, supersonic, hypersonic and even space planes will be able to use the facility.

Dubai has called this proposed new airport a "multi-mode super-port".

Further details were not immediately to hand but the move is part of the Dubai 10X initiative with Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects working on the project in partnership with Dubai Future Foundation.

Airports around the world tend to handle conventional planes but as commercial space travel moves closer to a reality, Dubai is getting ready to meet that demand.

The hub is set to be the region's first spaceport and the surrounding aviation infrastructure will be known as a "cosmotropolis".

It's also envisaged that the new hub will use hyperloop as a transport system yet no details were also provided on a time frame for this. But the airport will be connected to conventional public transport networks.

It's also unclear if the new space hub will include a facility for rocket launches.

Also announced on Wednesday was a plan to allow travellers the ability to chose customised airplane cabins on demand.

Khalifa Suhail Al Zaffin is executive chairman of Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects.

"The advent of new travel technologies such as supersonic aircraft and space travel have raised questions about the ability of existing airports to accommodate these modes of travel in an integrated way," he said.

"As the most ambitious country in the field of exploratory space missions, we believe the time is right to develop a new comprehensive plan for an integrated airport that offers both air and space travel."

Al Maktoum Airport opened in 2010 and aims to be the largest in the world when operating at full capacity.

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