Dubai Set to Pip Heathrow as World’s Busiest Airport



Airport to handle more than 70 million passengers in 2014 to confirm top slot

Dubai: Dubai International Airport is all set to become the world’s busiest airport for international passengers next year, according to the data released by its operator on Tuesday.

In many ways, Dubai airport has overtaken London’s Heathrow as the world’s busiest for international traffic in 2014. Since the beginning of the year, Dubai was on top until May 2014, with passenger numbers of 29.6 million compared to Heathrow’s 28.47 million.

The Airports Council International in its latest update of December 22 showed that Dubai is the leader with a total of 68.9 million passengers compared with 67.8 million at Heathrow for the 12 months up to the end of September 2014.

Last week was Dubai airport’s busiest ever when it processed a record 638,317 passengers between December 18 and December 24.

Dubai Airports maintained its growth trajectory in the second half of 2014, with passenger traffic at Dubai International rising 4.3 per cent in November. Passenger traffic in November 2014 totalled 5.6 million compared to 5.34 million recorded in the same month in 2013. Year-to-date traffic rose 5.9 per cent to 63.98 million compared to 60.38 million passengers recorded during the first 11 months of last year.

London’s Heathrow airport processed 67.45 million passengers, with only 1.4 per cent growth during the first 11 months of the year compared to the same period last year.

“Given the traffic achieved in the first 11 months, together with some of the busiest days on record in December, we are confident of ending the year above the 70 million mark and confirming our position as the world’s busiest international airport,” Dubai Airports chief executive officer Paul Griffiths in a statement.

“Looking forward to 2015, the prospects remain exceedingly bright and we expect to maintain the growth achieved this year in the next 12 months. Therefore, Dubai Airports continues to invest in world-class facilities to meet this demand, including the opening of the new Concourse D in the first half of next year,” Griffiths said.
A senior aviation analyst said that Dubai International is capping off a phenomenal year despite being hit with the 80-day runway upgrades.

“With almost 64m passengers catered for by November 2014, the airport is well on its way to reaching not just the coveted 70 million passenger barrier mark, but it also lays the foundation for 2015 as arguably the world’s busiest international airport,” Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, told Khaleej Times.

Leading the charge for growth are Emirates Airline and flydubai, both of which have launched a slew of routes, and in particular the growth of traffic to India has helped passenger figures rise sharply, Ahmad added.
Aircraft movements climbed 10 per cent in November 2014 to 34,690 movements, up from 31,525 recorded at the same time last year.

Year-to-date aircraft movements declined 3.5 per cent to 325,469 movements, down from the 337,121 movements achieved in the first 11 months of 2013. The drop in aircraft movements so far this year has been driven by capacity cuts made during the runway refurbishment programme earlier this year.
Regionally, Eastern Europe was the fastest growing market, with passenger traffic rising 54.1 per cent year-on-year in November, spurred by strong growth from Budapest, Prague and Warsaw. South America and Asia also showed good growth during November.

However, continued geopolitical and economic woes in Russia & CIS resulted in an 18.2 per cent drop in passenger traffic during November when compared to the same month in 2013.

India maintained its position as the busiest country destination in November, supported by double-digit growth in passenger numbers to both New Delhi and Mumbai, with flydubai and Jet Airways adding new flights to the cities during 2014.

Cargo volumes slipped 8 per cent in November 2014 to 205,375 tonnes, down from the 223,195 tonnes recorded in the same month last year. Year-to-date cargo volumes dipped 2.7 per cent to 2.165 million tonnes, down from 2.22 million tonnes achieved during the same period last year. Freight volumes at Dubai International continued to be impacted in the second half of 2014 by the move of all dedicated freighter services to Al Maktoum International. —

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