Dubai's second airport, designed to be the world's largest when completed, will open in June for cargo only, with plans to receive passengers in spring next year, Dubai Airports chief said Tuesday.
"Dubai will no longer be a single airport city," chief executive officer, Paul Griffiths, told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual Arabian Travel Market held in Dubai.
He set June 27 as the date for the start of operations at Al-Maktoum International Airport.
He said that the passenger terminal is scheduled to be ready by the end of the year and that it will enter service at the beginning of the summer season in 2011, towards "the end of March."
The airport, which is designed to have six runways and handle 120 million passengers when fully completed, was supposed to be operational by the end of 2008. Its runway has been ready since 2007.
"We are not just creating the largest airport in the world... (It is) also the best," Griffiths boasted, saying that Dubai expects to receive 150 million passengers by 2030 at its two airports.
The new airport is planned to cover 140 square kilometres (87 square miles), part of the 33-billion-dollar Dubai World Central development in Dubai's Jebel Ali area, home also to the region's largest port and its busiest free zone.
It is being built 40 kilometres (25 miles) away from the current airport -- already the busiest in the Middle East.
Dubai is also continuing to expand its existing airport, building a third concourse while it plans to expand Terminal Two, which is the hub for its young low-cost carrier, Flydubai.
"We want to create much better and smarter facilities (at Terminal Two)... We are trying to get that done within the next two years," Griffiths said.
Dubai airport handled 11.47 million passengers in the first quarter of this year, up 20.4 percent from the corresponding period last year, he said.
Aviation in the Middle East has bucked the slowdown in the world markets resulting from the credit crunch. Regional carriers recorded the strongest growth in passenger traffic at 25.9 percent, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said last month.