It was not possible to see anything through the large window of the bus, which took us from the plane to the terminal. It was covered by some kind of layer, most likely a foil, which was protecting the interior from the sun and heat, typical for this region. We drove very long from the airplane stand and it took us around 10 to 15 minutes to reach arrivals hall. Once we got there I started to look for something amazing. I was in the biggest international airport, a place showed in multiple documentaries and newspapers or magazines as a benchmark for every other aerodrome in the world. Although Atlanta – Hartsfield holds the title of the busiest airport around the globe with 94,5 million passengers carried in 2013 and 72,2 million in 2014 (till September), Dubai is not far behind and hosted 66,5 million people in 2013 and 52,4 million in 2014 (till September) and being in the 7th place worldwide. However when we take into the consideration only international flights, Dubai has just surpassed Heathrow according to preliminary figures for 2014 and become the busiest international airport in the world. In 2013 Heathrow was at the top with 66,7 international passengers followed by Dubai 65,9 million. According to preliminary figures DXB handled 71 million people in 2014.
I looked at the arrivals hall and I was not specifically impressed by the design of the building. Large columns which supported the roof were controversially silver and I didn’t like it. The organization however was very good also thanks to the fact that most of passengers were changing planes on their way to other destinations. That is why immigration process didn’t take long and I could smoothly collect the luggage and inspect the airport. Terminal 3 is the 2nd largest building in the world by amount of floor area. Only New Century Global Center a multipurpose building (mainly shopping mall) in the city of Chengdu in China surpasses it. T3 is enormous and it is a biggest airport terminal in the World. I haven’t been able to see it properly from arrivals hall but on my way back to Poland had a chance to walk by its endless shops and restaurants. DXB has 3 terminals in total and T3 is by far the biggest among them. Airport has a capacity of 75 million passengers and inevitably approaching its limits. However authorities are prepared for this and in 2015 construction of Concourse D with a capacity over 15 million passengers annually will be finished. This will give a breath to the congested terminals and increase the capacity to around 90 million passengers annually. Indeed the DXB is very crowded but only in the departure/transfer part of terminal, after security check, as Dubai is first of all a huge international hub where passengers changing the planes on their way to various destinations worldwide. When I have arrived at the airport, on our way back to Poland, I was checked in immediately after entering the T3 building and no other people were queueing except me. It was super efficient and very well organized. Since then I was freed from looking after my luggage and was able to find the way to the security check without any problem.
After I got through I entered a real tower of babel with people from around the world speaking dozens of languages and all human races. The main difference was however that DXB compering to Babel was very well organized an even thought it looked like anthill with hundreds of people walking around, everything was well managed by airport authorities. I stopped and started looking incredulously at this place and couldn’t believe that such international and multinational place exist and was created on the sands of Arab peninsula. Newcomers from Africa, Asia, Europe and America were rushing to their planes, toilets and going for shopping. They all shouted, laughed, screamed and some slept on the benches waiting for their flight. I was awestruck and full of gratitude that I had a chance to visit this airport.
The history of it started in early 60’s when the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum ordered to build the first airfield in the country with asphalt runway. In 1980s Dubai was used by airlines like Air India, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and some others as a refueling spot on their way from Asia to Europe and return. Once the Soviet Union collapsed and both Airbus and Boeing constructed planes able to fly non-stop between those continents, the importance of refueling spot gradually declined. Emirates airlines created in 1985, wise policy of this airline management team and tight cooperation with airport authorities changed the faith of Dubai and made it an international hub for passengers around the world. Today DXB employees around 90 thousands people and indirectly supports 400 thousands jobs in emirate. Additionally it contributes over 26,8 billion US dollars to the economy (27 percent of Dubai Gross Domestic Product). According to analysts that figures are about to growth significantly in the next decade, expanding the airport and the city again. That shows how crucial is aviation currently for the Dubai economy and how well the emirate substituted the ending resources of oil and bound its future with air transport of people and goods. DXB is the fifth largest airport by cargo traffic. In 2013 it handled 2,4 million tons of freight and the world leader Hong Kong International Airport 4,2 million tons. DXB is a primary hub for Emirates Airlines (EK), FlyDubai low cost Dubai carrier and Emirates SkyCargo cargo airlines owned by Emirates group.
I was amazed by the scale of Dubai hub development and the rapid expansion which is taking place there. When I was walking along the concours I saw tens of Emirates planes standing next to jetways waiting for passengers. It looked a bit like a mega factory, where everything is being controlled by machines which almost don’t make mistakes. The airport employees are the best specialist from around world, who work hard to ensure smooth operation of this ultimate airport.
I was able to visit Marhaba lounge in Concourse B of Terminal 3 and it was a very disappointing experience. The whole process of registration at lounge counter took us around 5 minutes and we walked in only to realize that all the seats are taken and we are not able relax there. We left the place immediately.
Seeing DXB airport was realizing one of my biggest aviation dreams and I was ashamed by its power and magnitude. In Dubai they were able to follow particularly courageous vision and dare to try what the others were to scared to even to think about. In this crazy pace they were faster and more determined then the others and step by step were heading towards their goals. Now Dubai International Airport is the biggest international airport on the planet and you cannot find here any symptoms of panting. They had some problems after 9.11 and last economic crisis in 2007-2008 but were able to recover so as world economy. When I look at DXB I don’t see a splendor which you may find in the airports of Abu Dhabi, Doha or Singapore. Emirates is not as elegant and luxurious as Qatar, Singapore Airlines and just recently Etihad (787 and A380) but obviously everyone in Dubai knows how to earn money and find a compromise between the quality and keeping the costs low to guarantee the business will grow for the next decades.