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Southern Runway

The Southern Runway is one of two major runways at Dubai International (DXB). Close to Terminal 1 and Terminal 3, the runway handles upwards of 1,200 aircraft movements per day. From its construction till today, the Southern Runway has been one of the most crucial assets for the airport. DAEP continues to maintain and monitor the runway for unhindered operations.

DXB Construction Stages


Since the Southern Runway was laid, growing demand called for an increase in capabilities. For initial expansion, the runway was extended to 3,800 metres and upgraded to receive up to Code E aircraft.



With the development of the eastern plot at DXB, a strategic decision was made to shift the Southern Runway towards the east side. Simultaneously, the runway was upgraded for Code F capabilities.



The Southern Runway is resurfaced and integrated with a new airfield lighting system and Navaids. Simultaneously, other upgrades such as adjacent taxi links and rapid exit taxiways were undertaken.

About This Project

Preparing a runway for greater flight traffic

Over the decades of aviation growth in Dubai, the Southern Runway saw constant upgrades and renovations to accommodate increased air traffic. In 2019, as part of the third phase of development at Dubai International (DXB), a decision was made to conduct a complete overhaul of the runway. The runway was nearing the end of its design life, and the airport had to stay ahead of a growing passenger demand. Dubai Airports and the DAEP identified April 16, 2019, as the strategic time to launch a resurfacing project as well as add new taxiways and lighting systems for the runway. As the biggest ever operation carried out on the Southern Runway, resurfacing was divided into two main parts.

Pre-closure Work

Prior to closing the runway on April 16, cross-functional teams from the DAEP and Dubai Airports created a tight project schedule. Alternative measures were put in place to overcome setbacks from the runway closure and devised action plans for any potential hurdles. DAEP engineers also ensured that the new runway design was engineered considering a range of functional factors, including varying temperature and weather, a rising number of flight movements, and accommodating aircraft of all types.

Closure Work

As soon as the runway was closed for landing, over 2,200 personnel began work around-the-clock to speed up the refurbishment. DAEP facilitated the transport of material required for the project, including 60,000 tonnes of asphalt, 18,000 truckloads of concrete and around 800 km of primary cables. Airfield teams supervised the entire execution, which spanned an area of approximately 2 million square meters or the size of 245 football pitches. For the final part of the operation, over 5,500 LED devices had to be installed along the new runway, replacing the older halogen lights. Each light had to be installed with its own transformer and Addressable Switch Device (ASD) for increased safety and functionality with the control tower. The lights were then grouped into circuits, with around 100 lights in each circuit. The installation of the lights made way for the final phase of testing, which involved road checks and two-way channel checks in coordination with the control tower. Upon the conclusion of the GCAA regulation testing process, the runway was open for landing. On May 30 at 17:54 hours, an Emirates Boeing 777 from Seattle became the first flight to touchdown on the new runway.

The Impact

Coordinated efforts between the DAEP and all key stakeholders was key to the project’s completion. Joint efforts also resulted in flight disruption being minimised to 32%. Over 800,000 passengers were welcomed during the closure. At the same time, flight traffic at Al Maktoum International (DWC) —Dubai’s second airport— rose by 700% with diverted flights.

The success of the Southern Runway Rehabilitation program isn’t the final project for the runway. Growth of the airport will heavily rely on the Southern Runway, so it continues to be monitored and upgraded to receive flights seamlessly, well into the future.

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Tonnes of wetmix base course
18,000 truckloads of concrete, asphalt and other material were transported on-site

Key Figures

Airfield Lighting

0 kilometres

Lighting cables used for the airfield

Foundation Building

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Asphalt used to restore the entire runway

Contract Management

0 sq.m

Area of runway that was resurfaced, approximately the size of 245 football pitches

Project Management

0 days

Time taken to resurface the entire runway



Number of personnel employed for the project

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Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects is responsible for the design, master-planning, infrastructure development and construction of Dubai’s dynamic aviation sector.
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