Dubai International Airport has become the world’s top airport in terms of international passenger traffic, recording around 70.4 million passengers in 2014, up 6.1 per cent from the 66.4 million in 2013, airport authorities said.
The airport recorded a 7.5 per cent growth in passenger traffic in the month of December alone, with around 6.4 million passengers travelling through its facilities. This compares to six million passengers in the same period last year.
Western Europe replaced the Indian subcontinent as the top source market for passengers travelling through the Dubai airport in 2014. Almost 1.1 million passengers in Dubai International came from Western Europe compared to 936, 449 passengers from the Indian sub continent.
Other top markets for passenger growth included Asia and North America, Dubai Airports said.
Aircraft movements in 2014 totalled 357,339 compared to 369,953 in 2013, a contraction of 3.4 per cent.
The decline was attributed to the temporary reduction of flights during the 80-day runway refurbishment project in May 2014 and the shift of freighter operators and general aviation to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC).
However, aircraft movements in December rose four per cent to reach 34,136, up marginally from the 32,832 recorded during December 2013.
The number of passengers per flight also rose 5.1 per cent to reach 208.3 passengers for the full year, due to an increase in the number of wide-bodied aircraft servicing the airport.
Following the runway upgrade work and the opening of the new concourse at Dubai International, the authorities are forecasting significant growth in passenger traffic this year.
“Much like 2014, 2015 promises to be another eventful year featuring more record passenger numbers and facility upgrades including the opening of Concourse D which will boost Dubai International’s capacity to 90 million,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.
“Today we are also releasing our projections for 2015 traffic at Dubai International which forecast 79 million passengers. We will have more flights connecting more people to more destinations.”
Experts too are bullish on the growth projections set by Dubai International Airport.
“Dubai International Airport has been experiencing growth between 10 to 15 per cent ever year for the last decade or more and its achievement of being the top-dog for international passengers firmly cements its place not just in history, but also as the undisputed leader for global connectivity,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst, StrategicAero Research.
“When you consider the massive impact of the 80-day runway upgrades, the reduction in flights and daily disruption for almost a quarter of the year, to garner such record breaking figures and a robust performance stems from the management team capability to manage and adapt to change faster and better than any other airport in the world.”
He added that the aggressive expansion by two Dubai-based carriers Emirates and flydubai continued to drive the growth of passenger traffic in Dubai Airport.
“Their relentless expansion and growth in new city-pair connections has allowed passengers to connect to more places than ever before and so Dubai leverages the strength of traffic flows both to and through the city – and in doing so, this growth highlights the importance of developing Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport even faster as traffic continues to rise by more than 10 per cent a year,” said Ahmad.