Three in five fliers are connecting to somewhere else, and Dubai’s airport has been designed as a massive machine to facilitate their movements, a polished-stone fulcrum between Dar es Salaam and Guangzhou, Dallas and Dhaka. The bulk of flights arrive and depart in three “waves”: one from 2 to 4:30 a.m., another from 7 to 11 a.m., and a third from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Between those rushes the airport is eerily quiet, even in the operations center, the size of a hockey rink, where Emirates manages the flights. A giant central screen shows the location of every Emirates plane in the air. A thick, curved line of blue avatars is headed to and from Western Europe; a smaller cluster moves between Dubai and Africa; another inches toward East Asia. Far to the north, flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco are headed straight over the top of the world.
To spend time on Planet Emirates is to be bombarded with reminders of the awesome scale of its operations, often proffered by staff who’ve worked there since the early days and remain mildly bewildered by what the company has become. The airline operates an industrial-size wine cellar in Burgundy, with 3.75 million bottles aging at any given time. Its flight kitchens are the largest in the world and make almost everything from scratch, from hummus to hamburgers, as well as 25,000 muffins a day. They incorporate what Emirates says is the world’s largest dishwashing operation, using 17 colossal machines to clean 3.5 million items daily. In case of a breakdown, 200,000 sets of cutlery are kept in reserve.
Image below of warehouse in Dubai for just the parts for the airline’s planes!