Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Mauro Buongusto - Translation: Marc Arys   sbap 2015

Dubai International Airport (IATA: DXB, ICAO: OMDB) is a major international airport located in the Al Garhoud district, 4.6 km East of Dubai city, United Arab Emirates, and is the world's busiest airport regarding international passenger traffic.
The history of civil aviation in Dubai started in July 1937 when an agreement was signed to base a flying boat base of Imperial Airways with a rental fee of about 440 Rupees/month. The Empire Flying Boats started operating once a week flying east to Karachi and west to Southampton, England. By February 1938 there were four flying boats scheduled a week.
In the 1940's flying from Dubai was done by flying boats of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), operating the Horseshoe line from Southern Africa via the Persian Gulf to Sydney.
The construction of the airport, by Costain, was ordered by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, in 1959. It officially opened in 1960 at which time it was able to handle aircraft the size of a Douglas DC-3 on a 1.800m long runway made of compacted sand. Three turning-areas, an apron and a small terminal completed the airport.
In May 1963 construction of a 2.804m asphalt runway started. This new runway, alongside the original sand runway and taxiway opened in May 1965, together with several new extensions of the Terminal Building. Hangars were erected and airport and navigational aids were installed.
The installation of the lighting system continued after the official opening and was completed in August of that same year. During the second half of the 1960's, several more extensions, equipment upgrades like a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) and an instrument landing system (ILS) as well as new buildings were constructed. By 1969, the airport deserved 9 airlines flying to some 20 destinations.

The inauguration took place on May 15, 1966 and was marked by the visit of the first big jets of Middle East Airlines and Kuwait Airways' Comets.
The arrival of wide body aircraft in the 1970s needed for further airport development which had already been foreseen by the ruler of Dubai with plans for a new terminal, runways and taxiways capable of coping with international flights.
The construction the a new terminal building consisting of a three-storey building 110m long including an enclosed floor area of 13.400m2. A new 28m control tower was also constructed.
Expansion continued in the early 1970s including ILS Category II equipment, lengthening the existing runway to 3.810m, installation of a non-directional beacon (NDB), diesel generators, taxiways, etc. These works made the handling of the Boeing 747 and Concorde possible. Several runway- and apron extensions were carried out through the decade to meet the growing demand.
1971 saw the new precision category 2 Approach and Runway Lighting System being commissioned. The construction of the Airport Fire Station and the installation of the generators were completed in December of that same year and became fully operational in March 1972. The ruler also commissioned and inaugurated the Long-range Surveillance System on June 19, 1973.
With the growth of the Airport Fire Services it was necessary to find more suitable accommodations and a hangar style building was made available to them at the end of 1976. This building was located midway between the runway ends to facilitate efficient operations. New facilities were also constructed to house the Airport Maintenance Engineer, Electronics Engineering section and Stores unit.
Expanding the Airport Restaurant and Transit Lounge included the refurbishing of the upper level and the provision for a new kitchen which was completed in December 1978. The next phase of development was a second runway, which was completed three months ahead of schedule and opened in April 1984. This runway located 360m north and parallel to the existing runway and is equipped with the latest airfield lighting and instrument landing systems to give the airport a Category II classification. Several extensions and upgrades of the terminal facilities and supporting systems were also carried out. On December 23, 1980 the airport became an ordinary member of the Airports Council International (ACI).
During the 1980's, Dubai was a stop-over point for airlines such as Air India, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and others flying between Asia and Europe which needed a refueling point in the Persian Gulf. This use was made redundant with the availability of Russian airspace due to the breakup of the Soviet Union and the advent of longer-range aircraft introduced in the late 1980's and early 1990's such as the Airbus A340, the Boeing 747-400 and the Boeing 777 series aircraft, which could fly between Europe and Southeast Asia nonstop.

Some view of Dubai Airport in the early years

Emirates is one of the two flag carriers of the United Arab Emirates based at Dubai along with Etihad Airways based at Abu Dhabi. The airline is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group, which is owned by the government of Dubai's Investment Corporation of Dubai. It is the major airline in the Middle East, operating over 3,500 flights per week from its hub at Dubai International Airport, attending more than 142 cities in 78 countries across six continents. Cargo activities are carried out by the Emirates Group's Emirates SkyCargo division.
The airline ranks among the top ten carriers worldwide in terms of passenger kilometers and has become the largest airline in the Middle East in terms of revenue, fleet size and passengers carried since 2007. From 2014 on the airline is the fourth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried, the third largest in terms of scheduled passenger-kilometers flown and also the third-largest in terms of scheduled freight tons-kilometers flown. The company also operates four of the world's longest non-stop commercial flights from Dubai to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston.
During the mid-1980's Gulf Air began to cut back its services to Dubai. As a result Emirates was conceived in March 1985 with backing from Dubai's royal family, and Pakistan International Airlines providing two of the airline's first aircraft on wet-lease. It was required to operate independent of government support, apart from $10 million as start-up funding and was headed by Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, still the airline's actual chairman. In the years following its founding, the airline expanded both its fleet and destinations and from October 2008 on Emirates moved all operations to Dubai International Airport - Terminal 3 to uphold its rapid expansion and growth plans.
Emirates operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-bodies aircraft and is one of the few airlines to exclusively operate a wide-body aircraft fleet. The main aircraft is the Boeing B777 in various versions. Emirates also ordered 140 Airbus A380 and became the second operator of this type after Singapore Airlines. Emirates is an industry bellwether regarding aircraft purchases having purchased 200 aircraft in 2013 alone.
The company has built up a strong brand name as a leader in aviation industry, particularly in terms of service excellence and its very rapid growth coupled with consistent profitability. Emirates won numerous awards (it was ranked 8th by Air Transport World for "Airline of the Year" in 2012). This award has been given based on recognition of its commitment to safety and operational excellence, customer service trendsetters and financial conditions including a 25-year consecutive annual profit. Emirates is rated as a four-star airline by the aviation consultancy group Skytrax and was elected Airline of the Year in 2013.

Crew awaiting their aircraft The traditional Emirates uniform
Visibility even at high altitude... (Serge Van Heertum)

In the 777 cabin

Along the United Arab Emirates coast
On final Few seconds before landing at Dubai International
Some views of the airport A380 on taxi
Emirates the biggest A380 user... The modern Dubai terminal
Just an incredible amount of Emirates tails Docking at the gate
The Boeing B777 is the aircraft mostly used by Emirates
Some views of the tarmac

A look at Dubai city from the terminal

The control tower...clearly a modern design
In the terminal At the airport entrance
The long long terminal seen from outside Another outside view
The two well know buildings at Dubai: The Burj Al Arab (321m)... ...and the Burj Khalifa (828m)
Boeig B777 (Courtesy Emirates) Airbus A380 (Courtesy Emirates)

Historic fleet

1 x Airbus A300B4 1985-1988 (Leased from PIA)
6 x Airbus A300-600R 19892002
10 x Airbus A310-300 19872007
3 x Airbus A310-300F 20052009
3 x Boeing 727-200Adv 19861995
1 x Boeing 737-300 19851987 (Leased from PIA)
1 x Boeing 747-200F 20032008 (Leased from Atlas Air)
1 x Boeing 747-400BDSF 20112012 (Leased from World Airways)
5 x Boeing 747-400F 20012013 (Leased from Atlas Air)


Current fleet (March 2015)

21 x Airbus A330-200
4 x Airbus A340-300
4 x Airbus A340-500
81 x Airbus A380-800 (59 already delivered)
1 x Boeing 777-200
6 x Boeing 777-200ER
10 x Boeing 777-200LR
12 x Boeing 777-300
103 x Boeing 777-300ER
35 x Boeing 777-8X (Ordered and delivered as from 2020)
115 x Boeing 777-9X (Ordered and delivered as from 2020)
2 x Boeing 747-400ERF (Cargo)
12 x Boeing 777F (Cargo)
1 x Airbus A319-100CJ (Executive)

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