Dubai International Airport remained the world’s busiest for international passengers in 2016, as existing markets grew and new routes were launched, the airport’s operator said.
Annual traffic rose 7.2 per cent to 83.6 million passengers in 2016 from a year ago, the operator said in a statement on Tuesday.
It was Dubai airport’s second slowest annual growth rate in at least eight years, according to Reuters calculations.
The airport is forecasting 89 million passengers this year, which would represent growth of about 6.5 per cent, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said.
The addition of 11 new passenger destinations by local carriers including Emirates and flydubai lifted passenger traffic through Dubai airport, the operator said.
India’s SpiceJet, Jet Airways and Air India also started new services, while Nepal Airlines and Russia’s Rossiya Airlines launched flights to Dubai.
In December 2016 alone, traffic increased 9.3 per cent to 7.7 million passengers.
Dubai overtook London’s Heathrow to become the world’s busiest airport for international traffic in 2014. Heathrow handled 76 million passengers in 2016, up 1 per cent, according to its website.
Heathrow’s figure includes domestic passengers whereas nearly all of Dubai’s traffic is international.
Dubai has since set its sights on overtaking the world’s busiest airports in Atlanta and Beijing by 2020.
Atlanta saw 101.5 million passengers in 2015 whilst Beijing handled 89.9 million.
Dubai airport expanded its capacity in 2016 to 90 million passengers a year, up from 75 million, with the opening of a new concourse. It plans to increase capacity to 118 million by 2023.
India continued to be Dubai’s single largest destination country in 2016 with 11.4 million passengers, up 10.1 per cent.
Cargo volumes grew 3.4 per cent to 2.6 million tonnes despite contractions in the third quarter.