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Dubai’s Two Airports Compared: DXB vs DWC

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Dubai is without a doubt one of the busiest aviation hubs in the entire planet. A jaw dropping amount of flight operate in and out of the gulf city. So much so that Dubai has opened albeit partially a new airport DWC (Dubai World Central). So let’s take a look at the differences between these two airports and what’s in the plans for them in the future.

Comparing Dubai’s DXB and DWC

Many ignore the fact that Dubai already has 2 airports. However the role of main airport is still held by DXB, Dubai international Airport. DXB is by far the busiest of the two. While DXB is set to welcome over 64 million passengers this year, DWC will struggle to go above the 1 million mark.

Let’s start the comparison of these two airports from their location:

  • DXB is located in the Deira district of Dubai and is right in the middle of the city. This means it is very easy to get into downtown Dubai from the airport. Also DXB is connected to the Dubai metro line.
  • DWC (Dubai World Central) is in stead located well outside the city in Jebel Ali, the western part of Dubai in the inland desert area. There is no metro connection and getting in and out of the airport is more inconvenient.

When it comes to airport structure:

  • DXB has to parallel runways, used at the same time in peak hours with planes landing on one and taking off on the other. Both runways are capable of handling Airbus A380s. The airport has 3 terminals. T3 for all Emirates operations, T1 for all other full service airlines and T2 for low cost carriers.
  • DWC has one active runway capable of handling 747s and A380s. And features 1 passenger terminal at the moment. However the airport is capable of managing up to 800.000 tons of cargo per year.

Dubai International Airport DXB and DWC compared

So why does Dubai have 2 airports?

DXB’s Problem

DXB’s location, which from a passenger prospective is an advantage, is an issue for future development. Simply put, there is no space for further development of the airport.

The city, since DXB’s construction, has developed around the airport taking up all possibile space the hub might need in order to further evolve in the future. There only so much traffic you can accomodate with two runways, a problem even London Heathrow is facing.

Forecasting further growth of air traffic transiting the city Dubai’s airport authorities planned for a much larger airport in an area where there were no space restrictions to future development. That airport is DWC (Dubai World Central).

Emirates Boeing 777 at DXB Airport

DWC’s Original Project

The original plan for DWC was for a giant airline hub. An airport capable of welcoming between 160 and 260 million passengers per year, along with 12 million tonnes of cargo.

The airport once completed (originally scheduled for 2027) is to have 6 parallel runways allowing up to 4 planes to land simultaneously. DWC’s plan also features 3 terminals, one of which entirely dedicated to Emirates’ operations.

This airport if ever completed as planned will be a behemoth in the aviation landscape probably the largest airline hub in the world. However the financial crisis post 2008 and Covid have pushed back the need and likely date of opening of the completed DWC.

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