Dubai airport’s Terminal 3 operational plans on track

DUBAI — The Dubai International Airport (DIA) is doing everything possible in preparing Terminal 3 to avoid the severe system problems that have plagued British Airways’ new exclusive Terminal 5 at London Heathrow, according to officials yesterday.

By Zoe Sinclair (Our staff reporter)

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Published: Fri 25 Apr 2008, 10:30 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:57 PM

British Airways cancelled hundreds of flights and upset many hundreds of passengers after problems with its baggage system caused chaos when the terminal opened on March 27.

Bloomberg yesterday predicted the cost of fixing the facility to be around $300 million.

The DIA Terminal 3 will be exclusively for Emirates Airline and the airport’s tests aim to ensure a smooth gradual switchover, CEO of Dubai Airports Paul Griffiths said yesterday

“We probably won’t go for a big bang. We’ll be going for a big phase in,” Griffiths.

Griffiths said no date had been fixed for the terminal’s opening to avoid the additional pressure of meeting a deadline before “exhaustive testing” was completed.

“Operational readiness trials” began in December, but with the infrastructure’s completion expected in May, the terminal requires at least 12 weeks of testing, according to Dubai Airports marketing and advertising general manager Rimzie Ismail. The DIA is conducting at least 30 trials, currently involving only staff, with groups of 200 to 2,000 testing the facility, particularly the baggage system.

“They’ve been very successful. Everything is going on schedule,” he said.

However, the public has been encouraged to take part in a series of tests, with the largest to involve 4,000 residents.

If successful, this test could prove one of the preparation’s final milestones, and is expected to occur around August, according to marketing and corporate communications director Anita Mehra Homayoun.

Since 2003, construction work has been proceeding on Terminal 3 and two apron terminals, with Siemens contracted for baggage-handling systems, runway lighting and building technologies.

Siemens has detailed in a recent company publication that the Terminal 3’s automated passenger baggage handling system will measure 90km in length and be the world’s largest. Siemens expected the system to enable passengers to change flights in 45 minutes. The system, combined with information technology hardware and software, will be operated by Siemens for ten years.

Griffiths said the system’s operation by the contractors, and the provision of extra contractors, would be important to its success.

However, school holidays and summer are fast approaching with June 19 signalling the start of Dubai’s summer exodus.

The airport is preparing its current facilities to deal with the city’s largest predicted summer rush — the result of passenger throughput growth of 19 per cent from 34 million last year and Terminal 3 unlikely to open until at least August.

Griffiths said the DIA was coordinating with various authorities, including the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dnata, Dubai Police and immigration, to handle the rush as best as possible.

Plans under consideration include expanding the airport bus stop on the approach to the terminal and improving road access to the airport.

The airport buses currently operate on two routes, but that frequency and route will expand, according to Ismail.

“We working very closely with the RTA that the public transport and airport buses will extend to other hotels,” Ismail said. Meanwhile, the VIP and valet parking for the airport, at the end of the departure drop-off, has been removed to reduce congestion.

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