Dubai International closes in on Heathrow as world’s busiest airport

The airport will probably achieve its target because the yet -to-be-released figures for this month are expected to be high.
Dubai International Airport, above, has handled 64.5 million passengers in the first 11 months of this year. Karim Sahib / AFP
Dubai International Airport, above, has handled 64.5 million passengers in the first 11 months of this year. Karim Sahib / AFP

Dubai International Airport (DIA) is narrowing the gap with London’s Heathrow Airport as the world’s busiest for international travellers.

DIA handled 64.5 million passengers in the first 11 months of this year, according to the latest official data. This month, Dubai Airports Company said it expected to clock up 71 million passengers by the end of this year, putting DIA head to head with Heathrow in terms of passenger numbers.

The airport will probably achieve its target because the yet-to-be-released figures for this month are expected to be high.

Its three terminals processed 638,317 passengers between last Thursday and yesterday, making it the busiest week in the airport’s history. DIA handled 65.8 million passengers last year, according to Airports Council International (ACI), thanks to the fast expansion of Emirates Airline and the carrier’s aggressive foray into western markets with its Airbus A380 flights.

Heathrow processed 66.6 million passengers last year, ACI said. The UK airport said in October that its passenger traffic this year could top 73.4 million.

The rise in passenger numbers at DIA this year came despite the use of only a single runway for 80 days because of a refurbishment scheme that caused a temporary decline in flights.

DIA passenger traffic reached 5.9 million last month, according to data from the General Civil Aviation Authority.

Dubai has established itself as a leading tourist destination in the wake of the Arab Spring turmoil as travellers shun Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Lebanon.

Meanwhile, passenger traffic for all airports in the UAE between January and November reached 88.8 million, according to the authority.

For Abu Dhabi International Airport, the number of passengers last month was 1.4 million. The airport reopened its southern runway this week after an Dh830 million renovation to support the arrival of widebody aircraft and an increase in passenger arrivals.

Airports in the UAE are exploiting their strategic location to become global aviation centres as local airlines add new destinations and flight frequencies.

selgazzar@thenational.ae

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter

Published: December 25, 2014 04:00 AM

SHARE

Editor's Picks
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read