Dubai International ‘neck and neck’ with Heathrow airport for passenger numbers

Dubai International is expected to clock up 71 million passengers by the end of the year, putting it on track to surpass London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers.
Emirates Airline, the flagship carrier of Dubai Airport, has started an aggressive push into western markets with its A380 service. Above, passengers wait to board an Emirates A380. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo
Emirates Airline, the flagship carrier of Dubai Airport, has started an aggressive push into western markets with its A380 service. Above, passengers wait to board an Emirates A380. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo

Dubai Airport is expected to clock up 71 million passengers by the end of the year, putting it on track to surpass London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers.

The airport operator yesterday said traffic increased 5.7 per cent in October “putting the airport on track to eclipse the 71 million passenger mark by year end”.

“We are neck and neck with London Heathrow in our race for the No 1 position coming down the home stretch,” said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports. “It is sure to be a photo finish.”

Just one runway was in operation for 80 days during the summer because of a planned refurbishment project, causing a temporary reduction in flights.

Analysts said the airport has benefited from the upgraded runways that have allowed more flights and incumbents such as flydubai and Emirates Airline have also been expanding their networks. “Whether Dubai International overtakes Heathrow this year is not too much of an issue,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research. “The reality is that by early 2015, the airport will become busier than Heathrow and take the top spot and stay there.”In terms of passenger numbers, the Indian subcontinent came on top. That figure was closely followed by western Europe, Asia and Africa.

In terms of percentage growth, traffic from eastern Europe was the fastest-growing in October, followed by Asia. There were declines, however, from Russia and the Middle East.

Emirates, the flagship carrier of Dubai Airport, has started an aggressive push into western markets with its A380 service.

While the carrier already has a fleet of 55 A380s, it is still expecting deliveries of another 85 aircraft. The A380 service flies to Houston, San Francisco and Milan, Dallas, and New York.

Emirates is ranked the world’s largest carrier by international traffic, or passengers carried times miles flown.

Passenger traffic through Dubai Airport totalled 5.98 million in October compared to 5.66 million recorded in the same period last year – an increase of 5.7 per cent.

Dubai has established itself as a leading tourist destination following the Arab Spring turmoil as visitors shun Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Lebanon.

With the only seven-star hotel in the world – the Burj Al Arab – a man-made island in the shape of a palm tree, and the world’s tallest tower – Burj Khalifa – Dubai has really made a brand for itself, and the emirate intends to host 25 million visitors in time for Expo 2020.

Meanwhile, Dubai is considered among the top three most expensive cities for hotel rooms, according to an index compiled by Bloomberg. The other two are Geneva and Miami.

Developers in Abu Dhabi are looking to build more budget hotels to open up the market and ease supply constraints.

But worries over higher land prices and rising construction costs are already surfacing over a potential slowdown of the development of hotels, said Laurent Voivenel, the chief executive of Hospitality Management Holdings.

halsayegh@thenational.ae

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter

Published: December 2, 2014 04:00 AM

SHARE

Editor's Picks
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read