Photos: Kuwait's amazing 'mega-hub' airport

By John Walton, October 28 2011
Photos: Kuwait's amazing 'mega-hub' airport

Kuwait is planning to challenge Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports -- home to Gulf long-haul kingpins Emirates and Etihad -- for supremacy in the region with an impressively designed new airport.

Architects Foster + Partners plan "to create a terminal that is an exemplar of sustainable design and will establish Kuwait as the region’s leading air hub".

Construction will begin in 2012, with the first phase (including the first of the airport's triangular trefoil terminals) complete by 2016 and set to handle 13 million passengers a year.

By the time that the second, similarly designed terminal is complete, that figure will be boosted to 26 million passengers per year.

The airport is planned to be "a new symbol of contemporary Kuwait, which resonates with its rich culture and history," according to celebrity architects Foster + Partners' CEO Mouzhan Majidi.

Foster + Partners also designed Beijing's enormous terminal 3, which opened in 2008 and bears more than a passing resemblance to this latest creation; they also master-minded the new Virgin Galactic Spaceport.

Inside the terminals, sweeping arches are planned to dominate light and airy spaces, reaching a height of 25 metres in the centre of each terminal.

The sand-coloured interior façades are intended to represent Kuwait's own desert location, although nobody's saying if the almost liquid-black flooring is supposed to represent the country's oil resources.

Each of the three sides to the terminals will stretch 1.2 kilometres across the airport.

So fortunately moving walkways are planned throughout each of the three spines of the terminal.

Airbus A380-capable gates are planned, with twin-level glass-walled jetbridges projecting under the roof's overhang. (Eagle-eyed readers will spot the A380 in the blue and white livery of national carrier Kuwait Airways).

The ceiling will be covered with photovoltaic solar panels to power the terminal, which is aiming for the LEED Gold environmental certification.

With Dubai's airport becoming infamous for overcrowding, it'll be interesting to see how Kuwait's terminal stacks up once passengers start streaming through.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

24 Apr 2011

Total posts 3

Does this in turn mean that Kuwait Airways is going to try to rival other gulf carriers?  They have a long way to go.

14 Jul 2011

Total posts 28

I agree  Kuwait Airways has a long way to go but is there really a demand for another  big hub in the region ? You already have Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airways which operates alot of routes and are well know airlines. Kuwait airways doesnt operate that many routes so it will be interesting to see wether this will be a successs. But yeah kuwait airways has to bring its products up to to meet the rivals or do better to attract people :)

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