Dubai International Airport has become the third busiest
in the world, overtaking Hong Kong International Airport.
More than 57.6m passengers passed through Dubai
International last year, a 13.2 percent increase compared to 2011, the
airport’s annual traffic report, released on Monday, said.
The airport is closing in on its target to overtake
London’s Heathrow as the busiest in the world by 2015.
Heathrow is near its capacity of 68m passengers a
year, while Dubai International is expected to accommodate 90m people
per year by 2018.
Dubai’s growth has been rapid, rising from the 99th
largest international airport only
11 years ago.
largest A380 facility opened at Dubai International's Terminal 3 in early
January, while the airport’s freight capacity is due to be expanded by 25
percent to 1.5m tonnes per by 2018.
Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffith said the international
airport would soon become the busiest in the world.
“Moving into the top three is a fantastic achievement for
Dubai International and we now have London’s Heathrow and the number one spot
firmly within our sights,” he said.
“The opening of Concourse A, the world’s first
purpose-built A380 facility, has given us the room to maintain our strong
growth into the new year, with a forecast of 65.4m passengers in 2013.
“However, our rapid growth is not without its challenges
and we will use the breathing room created by the phased opening of Concourse A
to stress test every aspect of our service in the next year and put in place
long-term processes that will put Dubai International on track to becoming the
best airport in the world in addition to being the busiest.”
Last year’s passenger numbers surpassed the airport’s
expectations of 56.5m.
A record 5.32m passengers used Dubai International
in December. It was only the second month in the airport’s 52-year history that
passenger traffic exceeded 5m people.
Aircraft movements also rose in 2012, reaching 344,245,
an increase of 5.5 percent.
Flights between Dubai and South America were the fastest
growing market – up 99.4 percent - due to the introduction of Emirates flights
to Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.
Russia and the CIS was the second fastest growing region
(up 36.9 percent), followed by Australasia (up 21.9 percent) and other Gulf
countries (up 19.4 percent).
New Emirates Airline flights to Washington, Dallas Fort Worth and
Seattle during the year saw North American passenger traffic grow 18.6 percent,
making it the fifth fastest growing region.
India remained Dubai International’s single biggest
country destination in terms of passenger numbers, which grew 7.4 percent to
7.34m passengers in 2012.
Traffic was bolstered by the introduction of low-cost SpiceJet,
which added new flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi and Ahmedabad to Dubai. Air
India Express, Indigo and Emirates also added new flights and destinations
during the year.
Freight volumes rebounded towards the end of last year,
helping total volumes for 2012 rise 3.9 percent to 2.28 tonnes.
A report by aviation data analyst OAG released last August showed Dubai had recorded
the fastest growth among major global air hubs, with a 12 percent increase in
flight operations and 14 percent increase in seat capacity.