Asia-Pacific Airports takes a closer look at what’s in store for passengers using Dubai International Airport’s new $1.2 billion Concourse D.
After months of intensive testing and a successful operational trial involving 2,000 members of the public, Dubai International Airport (DXB) celebrated another milestone moment on February 24 with the official opening of its new Concourse D.
And as you would expect from the world’s busiest international airport, the new $1.2 billion complex has added a host of new state-of-the-art facilities and services for passengers and the 70 airlines that now operate out of it.
Designed around a central atrium and linked to DXB’s newly renovated Terminal 1 by automated people mover, Concourse D offers a light and bright atmosphere, short walking distances and, of course, a wide selection of shops and restaurants.
Indeed, operator Dubai Airports claims that the short distances to its gates allows travellers to board directly from the waiting area, “giving them more freedom and time to enjoy the full array of exciting food and beverage outlets”.
“We continue to invest in the development of top-flight infrastructure to augment service levels for our international airlines and their customers while providing the capacity needed to meet growing demand,” enthuses HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Airports.
“Concourse D has been designed with the customer at its heart. Shorter walking distances, more comfortable seating areas, more choice in lounges and a world-class retail and F&B offering are sure to impress and delight our passengers and our airline partners.”
According to Dubai Airports, it has introduced a number of world-renowned brands to Dubai and the region for the first time. They include the casual dining concept The Kitchen, which offers passengers creations from celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, and the first Pret a Manger in a Middle Eastern airport.
Other firsts for DXB include Butlers Chocolate Café and Camden Food Company, which claim to bring “healthy, yet tasty” dining options using organic and natural products.
For those who enjoy a little theatre with their food, YO! Sushi is likely to be another popular new addition to the airport, while the CNN News Café has already become a favourite for news junkies who want to stay connected to world affairs over coffee.
Other new outlets include Lebanese favourite Sharwarmanji and Taqado Mexican Kitchen, both popular local examples of street food, in addition to a second Masale by Taste of India outlet but on a larger scale.
In addition Concourse D boasts established traveller favourites such as Giraffe – which will open its second outlet at Dubai International – Starbucks, KFC, Krispy Kreme, McDonald’s, Brioche Doree, The Noodle House, Cavier House & Prunier, Draft House sports bar, and Costa Coffee.
Concourse D’s retail/F&B concessionaires include Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) and Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI), both subsidiaries of the Emirates Group.
Kevin Zajax, ELR’s chief commercial officer, ELR, comments: “Our aim is simple – to delight and excite travellers with world-class F&B and retail experiences.
“At Concourse D, we have some new partnerships and we are delighted to be bringing Pret A Manger to the region, as well as being selected to work with chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck for our first opening together.
“We are sure passengers will be excited by the culinary offerings at Concourse D and we are proud to continue to work with Dubai Airports in, once again, raising the bar and enhancing guest experiences.”
MMI, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, expands its footprint with the opening of its sixth Le Clos, the award-winning fine wine and luxury spirits retailer.
Dubai Airports’ executive vice president, commercial and communications, Eugene Barry, says: “ELR and MMI have been long-time partners of Dubai Airports, and have played an integral role in the development of the customer experience at the airport.
“We believe in creating world-class experiences for our travellers and Concourse D has an exciting portfolio of popular and new retail and food and beverage brands, all integrated to take the traveller’s experience at Dubai International to new levels of engagement.”
As has become the norm at DXB, the new concourse also offers plenty of comfortable seating spaces and wellbeing concepts such as Be Relax and the ever-popular ‘SnoozeCubes’, which provide a convenient way to rest between flights.
JCDecaux exclusively operates Concourse D’s advertising concession, introducing Dubai International’s largest provision of digital and other advertising structures to date.
While the airport’s existing successful partnership with JTI will see the provision of three additional smoking lounges in Concourse D.
Dubai Duty Free has a total of 175 vendor installations in Concourse D spread over an area of 7,000sqm, bringing the operation’s total retail space at DXB to 33,000sqm.
Fashion offers cover a total of 1,000sqm divided into two zones, perfumes and cosmetics cover a total area of 1,500sqm while liquor and food occupies nearly 1,000sqm.
Described as a flagship facility, dnata’s Marhaba Lounge in Concourse D has a modern and contemporary design as well as a raft of new features and services that include as a mini theatre, bedrooms with double and single bed options, a special kids area, designated smoking zone and a VIP room.
Open 24-hours a day, it welcomes walk-in customers or advance bookings from travelers expected to arrive in Concourse D.
“Marhaba is very popular service that enhances the airport and travel experience for tourists, families, VIPs, and corporate customers,” says divisional senior vice president, Jon Conway.
“In keeping with the increased traffic in Dubai, we anticipate serving more than one million passengers this year across all our lounges. Our new facility at Concourse D will be the sixth Marhaba Lounge in Dubai, and we will continue to look at new ways to enhance and expand our services to delight our customers.”
The marhaba service is provided by dnata, which will handle all flights and baggage at Concourse D, as well as all passengers transiting though this new part of Terminal 1.
Approximately 3,000 dnata staff have been assigned to the new facility, working in various capacities from check-in, special handling, airside operations and premium meet and greet service, marhaba.
“We are excited to be a part of this milestone in Dubai International’s history,” enthuses dnata’s Conway.
“Our team is ready to face the challenge to ensure each passenger and piece of baggage arrives seamlessly in Concourse D.
“From aircraft appearance, baggage and passenger handling, ramp services, and cargo, every person plays an integral part in making sure that operations run efficiently in the new concourse.
“Our ultimate goal is to ensure our customer airlines and their passengers enjoy a smooth travel experience.”
On the apron, Concourse D provides 21 contact stands, of which four will be able to accommodate Airbus A380 or Boeing 747 aircraft, and 11 remote stands with a design capacity for 18 million passengers.
The addition of Concourse D has raised the airport’s capacity from 75 million to 90 million passengers per annum, and with a record breaking 85 million passengers expected to use DXB this year, it’s opening could not have been better timed.
“Aside from its many customer-centric features, Concourse D continues our legacy of providing timely capacity,” admits Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports. “With the addition of Concourse D, Dubai International is getting both bigger and better.”