Dubai Airports Engineering Projects (DAEP) has invited selected contractors to bid by 18 December for the contract to expand the passenger terminal at Al-Maktoum International airport.

The contract involves limited amounts of building work and is mostly mechanical, electrical and plumbing work together with the supply of specialist airport systems such as baggage handling systems.

The passenger terminal structure was built by a joint venture of the local Arabtec Construction and Germany’s Max Boegl. The fit-out was completed by South Korea’s Kumho.

The first passenger flights from Al-Maktoum International began on 27 October 2013, with Hungary’s low-cost airline WizzAir offering routes between Dubai and Eastern European destinations including Budapest and Sofia. The passenger terminal opening followed the start of cargo services in June 2010 and general aviation operations in April 2011.

DAEP is also planning a much larger expansion of the airport. The ambitious expansion programme planned for Al-Maktoum International will make it the biggest airport in the world by 2050, with the capacity to handle 255 million passengers a year. The enabling works for the project are expected to be awarded by the end of this year. In early November, DAEP told contractors it will start tendering contracts for building work at the airport in 2015.

The estimated cost of building the first phase is AED120bn ($33bn), making it the largest airport construction scheme ever undertaken in the world. Once complete, it will take the airport’s capacity to 130 million passengers a year and make it capable of accommodating 100 A380 aircraft at any one time.

Once the first phase is complete, a second phase will start that will increase the capacity further to 255 million passengers, with five runways, another terminal building and more concourses. The entire development will cover an area of 56 square kilometres and it is due to be completed by the end of 2021.

The concept design for the new terminal has been completed by a team of Lebanon’s Dar al-Handasah and France’s ADPI.

The airport plans were endorsed by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, in October. The development aims to provide the necessary facilities to accommodate passenger and cargo growth, and will also allow flag carrier Emirates airline to relocate its intercontinental hub operations to the new airport by the mid-2020s.

Al-Maktoum International is needed to further develop the emirate’s status as a global aviation hub, as growth opportunities at Dubai International airport are becoming limited due to its location in the city. That airport is already one of the busiest in the world. In 2013, it handled 66.4 million passengers, making it the world’s second-busiest airport for international passenger traffic after London’s Heathrow airport.