The Airbus A380s of Emirates and soon-to-be-partner Qantas have a new home in Dubai with this week's opening of a bespoke concourse built for the double-deck superjumbos.
Reportedly the world's first such facility, the Concourse A extension to Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport (DXB) features 20 gates specifically designed to accommodate the A380 with boarding gates feeding directly into the aircraft's upper and main decks.
This week's opening of Concourse A saw just four of these gates in use, "with more gates coming online in each successive phase" explained Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.
"We believe that this approach of gradual transition will enable us and all our partners to ensure smooth operations and help us to deliver on our customer service commitment."
Concourse A, which cost $US3 billion ($A2.85 billion) to build, is exclusively used by Emirates and will also provide the stopover for Qantas' A380s to London via Dubai pending final ACCC approval of the Qantas-Emirates alliance, following tentative approval being granted late last year.
Inside Dubai Airport's new Concourse A, Terminal 3
The new concourse spreads across a total area of 528,000 square metres and is ringed by a dual-tracked 'Skytrain' light railway to move passengers around the facility.
The Skytain gates shown below also include 'Skylift' elevators for access to the terminal's 11 floors.
This mini-lounge at the boarding gate is where Emirates' business class passengers will cool their heels before stepping onto their A380.
An operational test of the concourse involving over 1,100 people, including senior citizens and individuals with special needs, was held in mid-December.
The volunteers played the role of passengers arriving at, departing from and transiting through Concourse A, testing way-finding signage and the flow of passenger traffic within the new building and between it and Terminal 3 via the airport train. Many of the new retail and food & beverage outlets also formed part of the trial.