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Dubai’s A380 Facility – What To Expect

Dubai’s A380 Facility – What To Expect

A look at the new 500,000sqm Concourse A that has the capacity to handle 15 million passengers a year.

In a little over three weeks’ time, Concourse A – the world’s first dedicated facility for A380 aircraft – will have its soft opening, propelling Dubai International to a new era of aviation.

Dubai always has one eye on the future, and with the opening of this vast 500,000sqm concourse, which spans 11 levels and has capacity to handle 15 million passengers a year, it’s clearly setting out its stall – not just as the premier hub for Middle East traffic, but also north-south, for the next decade and beyond.

Early indications are that each of the 20 gates will open in a series of stages, as happened with Terminal 3, in order to ensure everything’s working smoothly ahead of full operations. Up to 1,000 volunteers have already been putting the facility through its paces – click here.

Its stand-alone design is novel, and although outwardly it resembles the nearby Terminal 3, we’re led to believe that the scale and interiors – which allows for a broader range of products and services – will be the real differentials.

Essentially, it’s all been designed to allow “faster, frictionless boarding” – which makes sense if you’re an airline trying to board up to 555 passengers at a time, or airport operator striving to maintain on-time performances.

Not many airports’ premium services span two entire floors. If you’re sipping or nibbling on something nice in the First Class and Business Class lounges, you won’t have to drop them and make a quick dash to your gate, as both lounges offer direct access to the aircraft.

Food & beverage has been enhanced across the board with more emphasis on family restaurants like Giraffe café (from the UK), Paul and Carluccios, while the likes of Shake Shack, Costa Metropolitan and the Moet & Chandon Champagne Bar will cater for on-the-go and upscale travellers.

The hospitality offering, ostensibly for transit passengers, has been taken to another level too with a dedicated hotel floor providing 170-room four-star and 32-room five-star accommodation.

Connecting passengers smoothly will be a key requirement, particularly once the Emirates-Qantas partnership, which will see Qantas relocate its hub from Singapore to Dubai, swings into effect next April.

The two airlines will jointly offer 98 weekly services between Australia and Dubai, including four daily A380 flights. Qantas’ daily A380 services from Sydney and Melbourne to London via Dubai will offer a combined seven daily A380 flights to London Heathrow.

A train will run between the A380 hub and Terminal 3, and while the terminals retain their current numbering (1, 2 and 3), all concourses and departure gates have been renamed to aid navigation.

Dubai Airports has introduced a simpler alpha-numeric system for gate numbering ahead of the opening of Concourse A, whose gates will be A1-A24.

The existing Concourse 2 becomes Concourse B with gates B1 to B32, and Concourse 1, which houses over 100 international airlines, becomes Concourse C with gates numbered C1 to C50.

On the other side of the airfield, gates in Terminal 2 have been numbered F1 to F6.

The remaining alpha numeric sequences are being reserved for future airport facilities that are part of Dubai Airports’ $7.8 billion expansion programme, including Concourse D (previously C4), where excavation work commenced in June.

“Essentially we have looked at this through the eyes of our customers to help them find their flights with ease and convenience,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports.

“Research shows us that passengers find an alpha-numeric system a far easier way to navigate their way through the airport and locate their boarding gate.”

The market dynamics in 2013 will be as interesting as the physical changes, as the impact of Gulf carriers’ alliance tie-ups filter through.

At some stage next year, the New Doha International Airport will also be opening, providing Qatar Airways – which recently joined the oneworld global alliance – with an equally large A380-equipped platform to grow its global network.

Moreover, it means some Australian-bound British Airways passengers (fellow oneworld member) could find themselves transferring flights in the Gulf rather than Asia.

Etihad, based at Abu Dhabi, itself undergoing major expansion, will compete for north-south traffic with Emirates/Qantas and through its codeshare with Air France/KLM and Garuda Indonesia.

READ MORE: GALLERY: Inside Dubai Airport’s New A380 Facility

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