Passenger numbers at Dubai International airport rose to a record 50.98 million in 2011, boosted by Emirates Airline’s fast expansion and Dubai’s emergence as the region’s leading tourism and business hub.
Passenger numbers surged by 8 per cent over the 47.2 million passengers who passed through the facility in 2010, a Dubai Airports statement said.
According to the annual traffic report issued today by Dubai Airports, December passenger numbers reached 4.69 million, an increase of 10.2 per cent compared to 4.26 million recorded during the same month in 2010.
“Recording 51 million passengers in our 51st year of operations may be somewhat coincidental but it speaks volumes of the momentum building at one of the world’s fastest growing international hubs,” Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said.
The strongest markets served in terms of total passenger numbers included India, UK, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Qatar, Germany and USA. The most significant percentage traffic growth during the year was seen on routes linking Dubai to Eastern Europe (+81 per cent), Russia & CIS (+30.5 per cent) AGGC (+26.5 per cent) and North America (+16.1 per cent).
“In a year that was characterised by economic uncertainty, political instability and high oil prices passenger growth continued unabated driven by new routes and additional frequencies as airlines capitalised on Dubai’s attractiveness as a business and tourism destination and efficiency as a transfer hub. That trend will continue in 2012 with our two largest airlines – Emirates and flydubai – are set to receive additional aircraft throughout the year,” Griffiths added.
In order to accommodate the anticipated growth in 2012 and beyond, Dubai Airports will invest $7.8 billion in airport expansion to boost the current capacity from 60 million passengers per year to 90 million passengers by 2018. The next significant step in those expansion plans will be the completion of Concourse 3, the world’s largest dedicated A380 facility, scheduled for the end of 2012.
“Aviation is big business in Dubai supporting 250,000 jobs and $22 billion in economic activity or 28 per cent of GDP,” added Griffiths. “By investing in the expansion of the airport infrastructure, those contributions are expected to grow to 372,900 jobs and $45.4 billion in economic activity or 32 per cent of GDP by 2020 according to international research firm Oxford Economics. That is a remarkable return on investment.”
Aircraft movements totalled 29,519 in December 2011, an increase of 7.7 per cent from the 27,398 registered during the same month last year and 326,317 for the full year up 6.2 per cent per cent versus 2010.
Average passenger numbers per passenger aircraft movement remained flat at 184 compared to 185 during 2010 as the airport continues to benefit from the efficiencies offered by the large number of wide-body jets that operate into it.
During 2011, 28 new passenger destinations were added while 17 were discontinued boosting overall passenger destinations served by Dubai International to 215 compared to 204 just one year ago.
Air freight traffic rebounded slightly in December to 189,593 tonnes, reflecting a modest increase of 0.8 per cent per cent compared to the 188,103 tonnes handled during the same period last year. Full 2011 cargo volumes totalled 2.19 million tonnes down 1.5 per cent from the 2.22 tonnes recorded in 2010. Cargo traffic was impacted by economic uncertainty in Europe and USA which eroded consumer confidence and led to a drop in exports, notably from Asia.