The number of passengers at Dubai International Airport increased by 6.3 per cent year-on-year in January to 7.3 million, helped by a rise in the number of travellers from North America, after Emirates increased flights to the continent.
North America recorded the highest growth in passenger traffic at 19.9 per cent, supported by Emirates flights to Orlando and increased services to Boston, New York and Seattle, the airport said.
Passengers in January surpassed a 7.2 million benchmark set in August, according to the airport.
"The record passenger numbers in January confirm that the growth trend from last year has continued into 2016," said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports. "We are on course to meet our projection of 85 million passengers that we expect to pass through our airport this year."
Traffic from GCC countries increased by 11.6 per cent, helped by travellers from Saudi Arabia – and a surge in traffic from Jeddah. The number of passengers arriving from traditionally strong markets in the Indian subcontinent increased by 8.7 per cent.
In term of countries, India remained the top destination in January, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UK. London was the most popular destination city, then Doha and Jeddah.
Last month, Dubai airport increased its capacity to 90 million passengers with the opening of Concourse D. The expansion includes 21 contact stands, four of which can accommodate the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747.
The airport recently retained its position as the world’s No 1 for international passenger volumes for a second year, after traffic exceeded 78 million passengers last year.
But with the hub expecting to receive 85 million passengers this year, analysts warned that the airport’s rapid growth could mean it eclipses the 100 million passenger mark well before 2020, thereby reaching its full capacity. This would require the city’s second airport, Al Maktoum International, to scale up faster than planned.
For cargo, Dubai International handled freight volumes of 201,483 tonnes in January, an increase of 8.2 per cent compared with the 186,230 tonnes it recorded in the same period last year.
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