By Frances Cha, CNN
(CNN) — Dubai’s aviation industry achieved its biggest milestone to date on Sunday, when the emirate’s new airport welcomed the arrival of its first commercial flight.
Located in Jebel Ali and part of Dubai World Central, an “aviation city” that the government launched as a free economic zone, Al Maktoum International Airport is expected to become the world’s largest airport upon completion.
Like the emirate’s main airport, Dubai International Airport (located 50 kilometers to the north), Al Maktoum International Airport is owned by the government of Dubai and operated by Dubai Airports Company.
Although full commercial passenger services were originally scheduled for 2017, the mega project was delayed for years due to the regional financial crisis, and faces a new tentative completion date of 2027.
Various reports estimate the total cost of the project at 120 billion dirhams ($32.67 billion).
The airport has been open for cargo flights since 2010.
Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air was the first airline to be welcomed at the new passenger terminal, and was greeted with a customary festive water salute.
Al Maktoum International Airport’s two other launch carriers are Kuwait-based low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways and Bahrain’s full-service Gulf Air, which also made its inaugural flight to the new airport on Sunday.
The UAE’s state-owned carrier Emirates is expected to operate entirely out of the new hub by the time of completion. More info