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Dubai Airport Terminal 3 Keeps its Date

Zoe Sinclair
Filed on October 16, 2008

DUBAI - After years in the making, $4.5 billion, and several operational trials, Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 opened to the smoothest of take offs on Tuesday.

Emirates Airline ground staff in their unmistakable beige and red uniforms, and Dubai Airports staff in their navy blue, greeted and ushered passengers through the terminal, keeping a watchful eye out for any that might lose their way.

But the passengers, who at times seemed outnumbered by the facility’s staff - keen to ensure a seamless opening, took the new terminal in their stride and praised the facility.

The first Emirates flight EK843 Dubai-Doha, an Airbus A330-200 with 136 passengers, and 73 pieces of baggage weighing more than 1,000kgs, was flagged off from Gate 213, on time at 14:15 hours.

Ahmed Shawky, traveling on the first flight to Doha, was a bit disconcerted before he checked in, saying the airport didn’t feel “warm – the other terminal was like home”. But he was quickly won over and spoke to Khaleej Times from inside the terminal after he had checked out all the features.

“It’s amazing from inside - luxurious, spacious, and you don’t stand in queues,” Shawky said.

“It is so big it’s quite a long walk but there are staff all along to direct and they are very helpful.” The terminal’s size, which can handle 43 million passengers, and lack of car and people traffic, was frequently commented on by passengers. Ian J Plamondon, a businessman returning to Bahrain, said he visited Dubai four or five times per month.

“The other airport is quite busy with a lot of traffic so I’m looking forward to travelling to and from Terminal 3,” he said.

Yohei Yahiro, a Dubai businessman, said the airport was easily accessible and had given a good first impression.

Abdel-Hamid Anis was travelling to Bahrain for a business trip and said he was eager to see the terminal’s interior, but said the airport’s functioning would only be seen at peak time.

“There was no traffic and the access roads were great, but we’ll see what happens at peak time,” he said.

The airport is undergoing a four-phase opening, and has been put through its paces in several operational trials, to ensure a glitch free transfer of flights to the Emirates Airline dedicated terminal. In particular, it was hoped to avoid scenes reminiscent of Terminal 5 in Heathrow, England, where the terminal dedicated to British Airways saw flights cancelled and passengers stranded due to problems with the baggage system.

Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group said: “Today our customers tasted the fruit of years of planning, investments and commitment. While we were quite confident of the robust systems and facilities, today was still a day of reckoning and we are delighted that our operations worked as planned. My warmest congratulations to all the stakeholders involved with Emirates Terminal 3, and particularly to the staff of the Emirates Group for their unflagging dedication and teamwork.”

zoe@khaleejtimes.com


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