As a major international hub and significant contributor to Dubai’s growing economy, Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 is the world’s largest single terminal building and the global hub for Emirates Airlines.

To ensure the smooth opening of such a large project, the Arup Operational Readiness and Airport Transition (ORAT) team managed every step of the airline and Dubai Airport’s move – from construction to fully operational environment.

Fundamental technology systems and control rooms were introduced, including check-in, flight and baggage displays, entertainment, and rail systems, with airport staff building familiarity to run essential live functions within the new operational environment.

Our specialists consulted stakeholders to establish training needs, monitoring their ability to work with new systems and identifying and resolving technical issues through managed trials and steering the strategy for terminal opening. The project provided an excellent platform for the airline and airport’s stakeholders to prepare for opening and identified opportunities for operational improvement.

Operational Readiness Activation and Transition

Central to the success of the ORAT work at Terminal 3 was the trials programme, compromising more than 60 trials over a 6-month period. This was the largest of its kind with over 3,500 volunteers and 13,000 bags.

Drawing on previous ORAT experience, Arup worked alongside consultants from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and consulted 13 key stakeholders, including Emirates, Dnata, the police and immigration services to understand their roles during the project’s phases. The ORAT team mapped out passenger journeys and anticipated potential problems.

Trials were segregated into three categories: fallback, basic and advanced. Each replicated airport conditions and tested scenarios at peak times, followed by analysis reports sent to stakeholders that enabled them to take action to ensure correct processes were implemented with suitable training.

Arup looked at various possible fault scenarios, such as power outages, system failures and alarm reactions. This approach paid off, with all systems operating as expected on the first day of opening, as passengers were disembarked and processed through to baggage reclaim in 14 minutes.