Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum airport starts its long journey with three airlines all set to begin their cargo operations. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International (DWC) airport will mark its first takeoff on Monday after receiving aerodrome certification on Sunday from the General Civil Aviation Authority of the UAE, creating a milestone in the region's aviation history.

The emirate joined an elite group of two-airport cities on Sunday when Dubai Airports officially opened DWC for cargo operations welcoming inaugural flights operated by Rus Aviation, Skyline and Aerospace Consortium.

"Phase 1 is the first step in a long infrastructure development project that over time will see our new airport transformed into the world's largest global gateway and a multi-modal logistics hub that plays an increasingly integral role in the ongoing economic and social development of Dubai," Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Airports, said in a statement.

"It is a proud day for Dubai and an auspicious occasion for the future of global aviation."

With this, the centrepiece of the 140-square kilometre Dubai World Central aviation cluster starts its long journey — 50 years after Dubai launched its existing international airport in 1960.

"We've got three airlines in at the moment — Rus Aviation, Aerospace Consortium and European Cargo Services," Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports chief executive, told Gulf News.

Operational only at the cargo end, 15 airlines have already signed up at the new airport, with three to four more in the next two days.

"From the 17 airlines committed from now till October, we're pleased with the response to date. It is a good indicator that the decision to build the airport was the right one. I'm convinced of the economic success for the airlines and infrastructure of Dubai," he said.

The first official aircraft to land was an Ilyushin IL76 that brought cargo from Afghanistan and will fly to Djibouti today. Other cargo aircraft currently at the airport include a Boeing 747 jumbo jet and a Russian made Antonov 32.

Part of the $33 billion (Dh121.206 billion) urban development which is twice the size of Hong Kong Island, the airport will see the launch of its passenger terminal in March next year. When completed, Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International will be the largest airport in the world with five runways, four terminal buildings and capacity for 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo.

Initially, it will operate one A380 capable runway, 64 remote stands, one cargo terminal with annual capacity for 250,000 tonnes of cargo and a passenger terminal building designed to accommodate five million passengers per year as part of Phase 1.