Development activity for the $33bn expansion of Al-Maktoum International airport is accelerating as consultants submit proposals for the design of the passenger terminal building and contractors prepare to submit bids for the project’s enabling works.

Work on the project continued during 2015 as concept studies were completed and funding options were considered.

The review period also allowed the project to benefit from cheaper pricing as construction activity in the GCC region slows due to lower oil prices, says a senior source involved in the project.

For the design and supervision of the passenger terminal building and other landside areas, consultants have submitted revised offers. At least two groups have participated in the tender. They are a UK team of Atkins and Mott MacDonald and team including Lebanon’s Dar al-Handasah (Shair & Partners).

For the enabling works, Dubai Airports Engineering Projects (DAEP) has invited contractors to submit fresh offers for the contract on 29 February.

The prospective bidders include:

  • Al-Jaber Group (local)
  • Al-Naboodah Contracting (local)
  • Ghantoot Group (local)
  • Tristar (Local)

The contract covers earthmoving work for the entire 36 square kilometre site. There had early been an expectation that the scope may only involve work on a small section of the airport expansion area.

The contract has been tendered before. MEED reported in January 2015 that DAEP had been expected to award the enabling works in late 2014.

One of the major challenges for such a large project is funding, and although some export credit, notably from the UK with a proposal of $2bn, has been pledged. It is understood that the consultancy bid from Atkins/Mott Macdonald will be supported by the UK funding facility.

Last year, Italian export credit agency Sace signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dubai Aviation City Corporation (DACC) to provide €1bn ($1.14bn) of credit for the Dubai South development, which includes Al-Maktoum International airport.

The ambitious upgrade to the airport will make it the biggest in the world by 2050 with the capacity to handle 255 million passengers a year. The planned construction work includes the new terminal building, six nodes or concourses connected to the terminal by people movers, and new runways. The terminal will also be connected to the new metro link planned by Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA).

The first phase alone will be 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.The first phase is expected to open in 2025. “A 2025 opening date should be possible,” says the senior source.

Once the first phase is complete, a second phase will start that will increase the capacity further to 255 million 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 development aims to provide the necessary facilities to accommodate passenger and cargo growth, and will also allow Emirates to relocate its intercontinental hub operations to the new airport by the mid-2020s. It is understood Emirates plans to move to the new airport in 2022.

An upgrade of the existing Al-Maktoum International airport has also been tendered. On 31 January, DAEP received bids for the contract involves some building work, mechanical, electrical and plumbing work together with the supply of specialist airport systems such as baggage handling systems.

The expansion to Al-Maktoum International is needed to further develop Dubai’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.

Construction work is still ongoing at Dubai International airport. This year a new Concourse D will open, and an upgrade to Concourse C will start. DAEP invited companies at the start of this year to bid for an estimated AED1.4bn ($381m) contract to upgrade Concourse C.

The contract involves the overhaul of the systems serving the concourse, such as the baggage handling areas. Concourse C serves international airlines.