Dubai International has jumped Hong Kong to become the world’s third ranked airport for international passenger numbers.
Passenger traffic grew 13.2 per cent to 57,684,550 in 2012, with the year-end total beating original forecasts by more than one million.
The year-end numbers were bolstered by a record 5,320,961 passengers in December 2012, 13.4 per cent higher than the 4,690,726 passengers recorded in December 2011 – and it was the second month in Dubai International’s 52-year history that passenger traffic exceeded five million passengers.
Aircraft movements for 2012 reached 344,245 movements, up 5.5 per cent from the 326,318 movements recorded in 2011.
South America was the fastest expanding market last year, due to the introduction of Emirates’ flights to Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, followed by Russia and the CIS region, Australasia and GCC.
New Emirates flights to Washington, Dallas Fort Worth and Seattle during the year saw North American passenger traffic grow 18.6 per cent, making it the fifth fastest-growing region.
India remained Dubai International’s single biggest country destination in terms of passenger numbers, with total passenger traffic rising 7.4 per cent year on year to 7.34 million passengers.
Traffic was bolstered by the introduction of 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 per cent to 2,279,624 tonnes from 2,194,264 tonnes recorded in 2011. Cargo volumes climbed 6.5 per cent from 189,593 tonnes in December 2011 to 201,949 tonnes in December 2012.
Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said it now has London’s Heathrow and the number one spot “firmly within our sights”.
“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 65.4 million passengers in 2013,” he said.
But he warned the rapid growth is not without its challenges and it will use the breathing room created by the phased opening of Concourse A to “stress test” every aspect of its service in the next year.