Dubai Airport Goes Underground

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A $4.1 billion underground terminal is the centerpiece of an ambitious expansion at Dubai International Airport. The new facility is being burrowed into the desert sand in what workers call the "mother of all holes." The excavation measures more than 1,000,000 square feet and when the terminal is finished, passengers will park their cars, check in and relax in restaurants and lounges 35 feet under the airport apron. Locally based Emirates Airlines will be the only tenant. Officials say the underground airport is not only more efficient, it's more pleasing to the eye. "The absence of above-ground structures ... offers significant aesthetic advantages allowing clear views of the concourse and apron," said spokeswoman Anita Mehra. Dubai is trying to establish itself as a sort of crossroads of the world and Emirates Airlines is driving the push with a fleet of long-range A340-500 jets capable of nonstop flights of 10,000 miles. Flights to Australia began last month and nonstop flights to the U.S. West Coast are also planned.