Dubai International has become the third busiest airport in the world in terms of international passenger numbers, according to the airport’s figures.
The annual traffic report, issued yesterday by Dubai Airports, showed passenger traffic surged 13.2 per cent to 57.6 million last year, up from 50.9 million passengers recorded during 2011.
Passenger traffic last year also exceeded Dubai Airports’ forecast at the start of the year of 56.5 million by more than 1 million passengers.
The figures mean Dubai has knocked Hong Kong off the third place spot in the world’s airport rankings.
“Following its busiest month and year on record, Dubai International has taken over as the world’s third ranked airport for international passengers, vaulting ahead of Hong Kong International Airport in the global rankings,” said an airport spokesman.
Hong Kong International Airport reported 56.5 million passengers and 352,000 aircraft movements, representing annual growth of 4.7 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively.
Dubai’s year-end numbers were bolstered by a record 5.3 million passengers last month, 13.4 per cent higher than the 4.6 million passengers recorded in December 2011 and the second month in Dubai International’s 52-year history that passenger traffic exceeded 5 million passengers.
Aircraft movements for last year reached 344,245, up 5.5 per cent from the 326,318 recorded in 2011.
“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,” said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports. “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.”
Regionally, South America is the fastest expanding market for flights to and from Dubai in terms of percentage growth last year, up 99.4 per cent due to the introduction of Emirates Airline flights to Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.
Russia followed, up 36.9 per cent, followed by Australasia, up 21.9 per cent. New Emirates flights to Washington, Dallas Fort Worth and Seattle during the year pushed North American passenger traffic up 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. The passenger traffic between Dubai and India continued to show robust growth during the past year, with total passenger traffic rising 7.4 per cent to 7.3 million passengers in last year.